After a day off, the Colorado Avalanche returned to the ice on Saturday for Day 5 of training camp as part of the NHL's Return to Play Plan. Practice returned to a two-group format, but the intensity from Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage carried over as the Avs mixed in special teams with 5-on-5 play.
Head coach Jared Bednar and a few players spoke after Saturday's Phase 3 session.
Colorado Head Coach Jared Bednar
On Saturday's Intensity At Practice: "I wanted to make sure that our team was getting out of the practice what our goal was going into it. We were a couple of drills in and getting ready to do a 5-on-5 drill that we had set up, and I wanted us to do that drill with the right amount of intensity and physicality while putting a big enough importance on that drill from the defensive side (too). Not that I didn't like the first part of practice, but as I was going through it I wanted to make sure that we were going to get the desired result from that drill. We only have so many days of practice to accomplish what we want to accomplish. So that (intensity) was my message and they took it well. I really liked our practice in the 5-on-5 portion of it, and then also I felt like that carried over to the special teams."
On Focusing On Special Teams: "I think we're going to spend a lot of time on our special teams. It's always an important part of winning in the playoffs. It takes a little more practice and meeting time. It'll be team-specific, as special teams tend to change depending on who your opponent is, whereas some of the 5-on-5 play stays the same. I feel really good about where our team has been on 5-on-5, even just going through the first four days of practice. I think that we know what we're doing there and that we're confident in our play. We know what our identity is in that. We've been working to gain consistency and improve our special teams all year. Penalty kill did a really nice job, before the pause, of getting to a spot where we were a really confident group. We're trying to pick up where we left off there, so that was part of the message this morning. And power play was a little more inconsistent, but the personnel was ever-changing with the injuries that we had during the year. It just seemed like someone was always in or out of our top unit especially. It was changing, it was different, and there wasn't a lot of consistency with the personnel either. Hopefully that's not going to be an issue for us in the playoffs. So we just kind of talked about some of the things we feel are really important, not only in Edmonton but in preparing for the tournament. Day 1 went really well. I liked what we saw from both the power play and the penalty kill. Guys on both sides of the puck there are looking forward to trying to be the top in the league through the playoffs. It's a good challenge for our team and we're going to spend quite a bit of time on it (special teams) here as we prepare."
Colorado Center J.T. Compher
On First Week Of Camp: "It's been a good week. We've gotten in some good 5-on-5 work, a little bit of special teams, and a scrimmage. The one thing that I noticed when we came back was, first, our depth - it was nice to see our lineup healthy - but just the skill level and intensity that guys came back with. You could tell our guys were working hard during the break to be ready for whenever we were going to start."
On Preparing For Multiple Roles: "I don't mind it, I kind of thrive off it. I pride myself on being able to help the team in multiple situations, whether I'm up or down the lineup, power play, penalty kill. I take that as a challenge, whatever spot I'm in that day, whether it's halfway through the game or before the game. I just try to play my game and play competitive so I don't have to worry too much about it."
Video: Forward J.T. Compher after practice at Pepsi Center
Colorado Left Wing Matt Calvert
On Coach Bednar's Intensity: "It was great. It's something as players we've been pushing for. When I came in from summer skates, obviously there were a few guys here before me, and I was skating with Nate and Landy and we were pushing to be on that level even before training camp. To hear that reiterated from the coach, it's true, you have to hit the ground running in a situation like this. We're going to keep getting better every day."
On Message To Younger Players: "I think it's similar to coach's message today: be ready, be sharp. We're not easing into things, we don't have a month of training camp and six exhibition games. I don't think we want to go too hard too early, and I think they've done a great job with that. You want to ease yourself back into it, just so guys aren't getting small injuries. As for telling the young guys, I think you lead by example. You work as hard as you can out there, you really try to be gamelike. And that's something we've pushed for throughout all of our practices."
Video: Calvert on the Avs' mindset heading to Edmonton
Colorado Defenseman Ryan Graves
On Recapturing Chemistry With Fellow D-Men: "I think it comes back pretty quickly. I think it's not so much the chemistry, I think it's more just getting the feel for it again and playing games. We've played together quite a bit this year, we've played with pretty much everybody. I've played with G, E.J., Z, Coler, so it's not really a big deal for how we mix them up. It's more just getting your feet under you and getting back in game shape, which I feel is coming along for us right now. I feel pretty good. I think all the rest of the guys are feeling like they're ready to go, so the chemistry comes naturally I think."
On Adjusting To Practice: "Honestly it's been pretty good. When we had our individual skates, we were split into three groups when we first came back to Denver. Obviously your first week you're getting used to the altitude again and climatizing. But honestly, once camp started I think everyone's looked quick. Our pace has been high. Personally I've felt really good. So I feel like we're all pretty close to game shape and trending in the right direction. Practice has been high-tempo, a little bit of battling, a lot of up and down the ice. It's just about getting back into things and finding that rhythm."
Video: Ryan Graves talks about Phase 3 skates after practice
Quotes transcribed by Colorado Avalanche's Zach Shapiro