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Avs Looking For Good Habits Moving Forward

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /

The Colorado Avalanche is taking on the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center on Tuesday night, and while the controversial offside call from Sunday's loss at the Chicago Blackhawks is still fresh with the players and the media, the important take away is how the Avs ultimately responded to Chicago's push back in the final frame of the match.

"That call, that's out of my control. That's not something I control," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said following morning skate on Tuesday. "I've taken the approach my whole career that you got to focus on the things that you can control, and for me that's our response in those situations, how we manage the game when Chicago's making a push. I didn't like the way we did it the other night.

"So that's my focus. That's what we dealt with a little bit this morning. We looked at it on the video tape from the road trip because it killed us in both games. The call is the call. It's made and there's nothing you can do about it. We'll follow it up eventually. I know our guys upstairs will take a look at it and get some clarity, and so will [video coordinator] Brett [Heimlich]."

Having returned home, where the club has won three of its past four contests, the Avs know that being prepared to play through every single situation for the duration of the match is what is important.

Video: Mikhail Grigorenko after morning skate

"We all know that it can happen, what happened last game," forward Mikhail Grigorenko said. "We were dominating the game for 50 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes we just stopped playing and it cost us the game. So it can happen, and we just need to make sure we're ready to play 60 minutes."

Grigorenko scored two of Colorado's three goals on Sunday, just one day removed from being a healthy scratch, and he'll be in the lineup again on Tuesday as he tries to replicate the effort.

"It was a big game for me. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a win, but we did a lot of good things out there. Personally for me, it was nice to get on the board, score some goals and get some confidence back. So that was huge," said the 22-year-old Russian. "Just [need to] keep working hard and don't get too comfortable, I think. Just keep shooting the puck and keep skating. Don't get frustrated if things don't go the same way they went last game, but hopefully I'll be able to score again and help the team win."

Sitting in the press box for any amount of time can be an eye-opening experience, and it was no different for Grigorenko. Being out of the game made him want to prove that he deserved to be on the ice.

"I think it's really important to show the coaches and everyone that you want to play and show what you can do, and I was able to do that. So that was great. I guess I just watched that game against Detroit and took something for me out of it and used it in the game," he said. "I think it's really important every time you show up to the rink you have to give your absolute best, every practice, every game, everything you do at the rink. Eventually, it's going to pay off. I was happy to score two goals last game."

Now the focus is on the Blues and stopping their push for a postseason berth. The squad currently owns the second Wild Card spot for the Western Conference, although the Los Angeles Kings are just six points behind St. Louis.

"They're fighting for their lives. I think they have us a couple more times, [Arizona] a couple more times," rear guard Erik Johnson said. "They're depending on beating obviously two of the not very good teams in the West right now based on record, so we have a chance to play spoiler and hopefully we can do that. We still have to play good and play for pride, and a lot of guys are playing for jobs next year. So no matter what situation we're in as far as the playoffs, you still have to play hard and play for the logo and do the best that you can because you're in the NHL. A lot of guys would be killing for the position we're in.

"We have to relish the spoiler role, as much as that sucks. It's just the situation we're in right now. We have to deal with it, and we can help some other teams out that need us to beat some other teams and make it tough on some teams whose lives depend on beating us."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar's pregame news conference

Bednar is looking for that same drive and motivation throughout his lineup, as the objective is to start stringing together successes in areas of the game in order to improve in both the short and long term.

"We're working toward something. It's not just necessarily this season. It's beyond that. For our young guys, we've got some young guys in the lineup that have come up and done a really nice job for us," Bednar said. "It's growth for them, and it's trying to find some chemistry with some of the guys that we know are coming back. Keep working with them and teaching them and hopefully improving a little bit before the end of the season. There's not much time left, but we have to make some improvements every day.

"It's a challenge, for sure. They're important games for all these teams, and good teams, obviously, if they're fighting for playoff spots or they're in the playoffs and they're fighting for their seeding. And we've been facing that for quite some time. I think teams need the points and they look at us in the standings, and they're going to come after those points. So we have to be ready to play and play well and play for 60 minutes. It doesn't hurt our team, that's for sure, to be playing hungry teams. Every game is a challenge for us, but we need to find ways to work through them and secure some points and see some growth in our team."

A former first-overall selection (2006) of the Blues, Johnson admitted that games against his former organization aren't as emotional as they once were, which also means that he can focus on being his best self this evening. 

"The first couple years it was tough, but it doesn't really bother me anymore. It's just another game," said Johnson. "A whole new coaching staff, a lot of new players; I don't even think I've played with three-quarters of the players over there, so it's just another game for me. It feels like I never played there anymore. It's just one of those where it's another game at home, and I hope we play well.

"Obviously, winning at home is always more fun, in front of your fans and on your home ice. You want to make them enjoy you and enjoy the product you put out there. So hopefully we can continue that. It's always fun to win at home."

 Video: Erik Johnson on facing the St. Louis Blues



According to Jared Bednar, netminder Calvin Pickard will be the starter for the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Additionally, forward John Mitchell, who was a healthy scratch for Sunday's match at the Chicago Blackhawks, will be back in the lineup and reunited on a line Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau.

Left wing Matt Nieto will be on a trio featuring center Matt Duchene and captain Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikhail Grigorenko will play alongside rookie J.T. Compher and veteran Rene Bourque.

The defensive pairings will remain the same as they were on Sunday. 

Forward Joe Colborne will join defensemen Cody Goloubef and Patrick Wiercioch as the healthy scratches.

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