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Avs Mix Up Lines Before Road Trip

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

News and notes from Colorado Avalanche practice.

Head coach Patrick Roy shuffled his forward combinations up and down the lineup at Monday morning's practice prior to the team's flight to Florida.

While there were some player duos that remained together—Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikhail Grigorenko and Cody McLeod—each of the four forward lines saw new groupings.

Dennis Everberg joined Duchene and Iginla, while Jack Skille was promoted from the fourth line to a pairing with MacKinnon and Landeskog. John Mitchell returned to centering the fourth line with Grigorenko and McLeod.

Skille said he isn't going to change the way he plays the game now that he's in a top-six role.

"Be hard on the forecheck. Good on the blue lines. Simple. Try to create space for them by playing the hard way and basically the way I've been trying to play so far this season," Skille said. "In these opportunities it's easy to think that you got to change and kind of go up to their skill level, but I'm just going to do what got me there and what got me this opportunity and not change anything."

The third line consisted of center Carl Soderberg and wings Blake Comeau and Alex Tanguay.

On defense, the biggest change is the addition of Tyson Barrie, who will return to the lineup against the Panthers after serving his three-game suspension. Barrie missed the first games of his career because of a suspension after the league determined that he interfered with and charged Simon Despres of the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 16.

"It was frustrating. Three games doesn’t seem like much, but when you're sitting out it seems like a long time," Barrie said. "It's kind of unfortunate that the stretch of games we had seemed to be spaced out a bit. It was definitely a long wait for me, so I'm excited to get back in there tomorrow."

The offensive defenseman was paired on the back end with Nick Holden during practice, and the duo will likely play together to start Tuesday's game.

Holden has played with Brandon Gormley for the past two games, but it appears as if Gormley will be a healthy scratch against Florida as he practiced with Brad Stuart on Monday. Stuart wore a red non-contact jersey during the 45-minute session as he is dealing with a back injury.

The other defensive groupings of Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson and Nate Guenin and Nikita Zadorov remained the same during drills.

Goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra will likely each see time in the crease during the three-game trip that spans four days. Roy said Reto Berra was previously scheduled to get the start on Tuesday against the Panthers, and he will stick with that plan.

Roy also reiterated what he said after the team's 4-3 loss on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, that the team is close and just needs to manage its game better, especially in the third periods.

"Maybe for some people it seems that we're far, but for us we feel that we're really close to winning some hockey games," Roy said.

"I'm not going to panic here. I think we're under control. Minny, we're up by three after two. The game after against Dallas, we're tied after two. Our worst game of the season, and I mentioned it after the game that I wasn't pleased, was the Boston game. We got to Anaheim, we're up by two. We're in L.A., we're down by one going into the third. We're even after 40 minutes of play against Carolina. And the last game, same thing, we're up by a goal going into the third. I'm not going to come in front of the media and say things that I don't believe. I believe right now it just needs to be about our game management. If we can just be a bit better in some decisions that we make, these could be wins for us."

After Tuesday night in South Florida, the Avalanche travels across the state to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before closing its first road trip out east on Friday at the Carolina Hurricanes.

Practice Line Combinations

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonJack Skille
Dennis Everberg
Matt DucheneJarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay
Carl SoderbergBlake Comeau
Cody McLeod
John MitchellMikhail Grigorenko

Francois BeaucheminErik Johnson
Nick Holden
Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov
Nate Guenin
Brandon Gormley
Brad Stuart

Reto Berra
Semyon Varlamov

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