News and notes from Colorado Avalanche practice.
The Colorado Avalanche returned from a three-game road swing late Friday night and was back at Family Sports Center on Saturday morning, preparing for Sunday’s matinee match against the visiting San Jose Sharks.
The majority of the team spent their time conducting off-ice workouts and video sessions while only netminder Reto Berra and defensemen Nate Guenin and Brad Stuart took the ice.
“We need to focus on tomorrow. I know we have some home games [coming up],” forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “San Jose’s got a good team. I think they’re playing today so we’re going to have to jump on them tomorrow.”
Sunday’s contest offers the Avs a somewhat rare opportunity to play a midday match at home, something that only happened once last season (Jan. 10 versus Dallas).
“It’s awesome. I’m definitely jealous of the East Coast teams like Philly, Boston, Pittsburgh,” MacKinnon said. “I think they get like eight or nine a year. This is awesome. I think we’ve done pretty well in 1 o’clock games over the past couple seasons. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I love it,” veteran forward Alex Tanguay added. “You’ve got time to rest after. You’ve got time to cool down, go to bed at a decent hour, feel good the next day. As opposed to some of the 8 o’clock games we have where you can’t fall asleep ’til two in the morning and then the next day you’re really feeling the effects of the game. I love them.
“I wish on weekends it was always like that. Plus, you get a lot more kids and a lot young people in the crowd that will be your fanbase for a long, long time. So it’s fun to have those games.”
The Avalanche knows that having three of the next four contests at home—there’s a quick trip to Arizona in the middle—will be important in trying to regain ground in the highly-competitive Central Division.
“Right now, every game’s key. With the way we’ve started the season, the first 10 games, the next 10 games need to be outstanding in order to get ourselves back in the standings as soon as possible,” Tanguay said. “We know the importance of the start. We haven’t played to the level we think we’re capable of playing and now we’ve got to fight extremely hard to get ourselves back.”
One area that Colorado needs to improve in is special teams. Both sides of the man advantage performed poorly on the road, and the Avs will need them to blossom in order to string together some wins.
“We’ve made some good strides,” MacKinnon said. “We’ve been playing really well 5-on-5. Obviously, we need to chip in on the special teams. Power play and PK need to be a little bit better, but it’s going to be a good test for us.
“We know we have better, and it’s up to us to find it,” said Tanguay.
The puck drops Sunday at 1 p.m. at Pepsi Center.