CENTENNIAL, Colo.--With the first preseason game of the 2018-19 season in the books, the Colorado Avalanche got back to work at practice on Thursday.
The roster was split into two groups and each unit practiced for 75 minutes with the session split between the two sheets of ice at Family Sports Center. The first group had 11 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies while the second group had 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders.
The Avs dropped its first exhibition contest 5-1 against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday at Pepsi Center. Colorado had 10 players on its game roster that had NHL regular-season experience and five others that were dressing in their first preseason outing.
"We saw what didn't go well and what went well, and we need to work on that," said forward Gabriel Bourque. "Already today we start talking about that and get the guys ready for the first opening night."
Colorado will practice again on Friday before playing its second preseason contest at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
"It's fun, just practice and work on your game, work on your team effort," Bourque added. "I can't wait to play my first game, I am excited to get going. But for right now today was a fun practice, most of the guys [were] on the ice and it was a good pace."
Defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Nikita Zadorov traded in their red, non-contact jerseys and wore regular black sweaters as full participants in practice. Both have been skating without any contact since training camp began, as they were recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries.
Nicolas Meloche also practiced with the group, his first time on the ice with the veterans this season.
Forward Matt Calvert did not participate in the practice and right wing Mikko Rantanen left the session early as a safeguard.
"Matt Calvert has a muscle strain so we kept him out today and Mikko left the ice early with a nagging muscle strain as well," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said after practice. "Those are precautionary. No use pushing guys this early in camp and having those injuries get worse when we can give them a day off and then get them back up to speed after one or two days. We got lots of time here yet before the regular season."
Defensemen Sergei Boikov and Conor Timmins continued skating on their own on the extra sheet of ice during one of the practice sessions. The rear guards have not participated in on-ice practices yet during training camp and the preseason.
"Boikov is going to skate on his own here at some point today, and hopefully join the group in the next day or so, but he hasn't been cleared. He is still dealing with a muscle strain," said Bednar.
Bednar did not have an update on Timmins, who has been out while under concussion protocol.
Head Coach Jared Bednar on the defensive depth in the Avalanche organization: "Our depth is getting better, which is a positive. The addition of Ian Cole and having Z and (Nemeth) healthy, now after their offseason surgeries, is a plus. The addition of Girard, I think it's going to get more difficult moving forward with our D-corps to earn a job on this team and I think also especially when you start thinking about Makar and Timmins and their future here, which is good.
Video: Avs head coach Jared Bednar after practice
Left Wing Gabriel Bourque on his goals for the 2018-19 season: "Try to make the opening [night roster] and try to be in the first game of the year. For the team, go back in the playoffs and do some damage. We know we did a good job last year, the guys know we can do it and just build on that."
Video: Gabriel Bourque talks offseason and 2018-19 campaign