The Colorado Avalanche started its second week of training camp on Monday, practicing for the seventh time in Phase 3 as the team prepares to go to Edmonton. Colorado plays an exhibition game against the Minnesota Wild on July 29, followed by its first Stanley Cup Qualifier against the St. Louis Blues on Aug. 2.
Head coach Jared Bednar spoke after practice, as did Matt Nieto, Conor Timmins, and Nazem Kadri.
Colorado Head Coach Jared Bednar
On Evaluating Defensemen: "We're still evaluating, so right now we put Girard on the No. 1 power play and E.J. on the second (in Cale Makar's absence). They're getting some reps in practice and we're (also) keeping an eye on all of the other guys that are here, for sure. It starts with Connauton, probably, with his experience, (and) we know what Barberio has done for us over the last few years. But for our staff, we're looking at guys like Timmins and Byram real closely because we don't get to see them as often as those other guys."
On Impression of Conor Timmins: "I think he's been really good. Noticeable skills. I like his puck-moving ability. I think he's a really good passer, a heads-up player, finds a way to move the puck in and out of the zone. I think the things that we look at generally, as far as that puck play and intelligence and being able to read plays on the offensive side of things, are really good. And the physicality and competitiveness in practice are starting to pick up in these scrimmages. So we're trying to keep an eye on these guys and watch how they're defending in the hard areas: the corners, net front. I know we're practicing against our own team, but just seeing how he handles the size and strength and speed of the game on the defensive side of things, it's pretty good. We're pretty happy with what we're seeing here from him. A couple of years ago he came to camp and really impressed and went back for junior and got into some injury troubles. But after playing a year in the American League and battling through some injuries even this year, I feel like he's in a pretty good place. He's come in here as a confident player and a player that wants to help make an impact for our team."
Colorado Left Wing Matt Nieto
On Fourth Line With Bellemare and Calvert: "First off, I think the playoffs fit all three of our styles. We're three guys that like to push the pace and play fast. We like to play hard defensively. I think the playoff style of hockey fits all three of our games. We take pride in our role on the team. We know that we have to be sharp starting right away in the playoffs here."
On His Expectations Of The Pace: "I think it'll be different. Given the circumstances, none of us has ever played a style like this. I think our team has been doing a good job in practice lately. I think each day the pace is getting higher, and that's important leading into the exhibition and round-robin games. That's where we're really going to have to come out strong and fast because there's really only a few games and then it's right into it. We have to do everything in our will to make sure we're ready for that first game of the playoffs."
Colorado Defenseman Conor Timmins
On Health And Opportunity: "It's been kind of a tough couple of years. I haven't had a lot of opportunities to play a lot of games, so anytime I can be around the rink and get extra reps, especially with these guys, is great for my development. It's going to be really cool to be on this run with these guys."
On First Season Of Pro Hockey: "I think overall it was a good year for me. It was definitely a learning experience. I think I really developed defensively. Greg Cronin (Eagles head coach) put in a lot of work with me: my one-on-one battles, my gap control, my defensive zone work. So I think I really improved on that. That was big for me. Obviously, up here in the NHL everyone can score and you have to play defense against everyone. For me to put in that work was definitely big for my game."
Colorado Center Nazem Kadri
On Fourth Line Of Nieto, Bellemare, and Calvert: "In terms of that trio, they provide a lot of energy. That's what we looked to them for, some gritty plays and some energy. And they have some talent offensively that they can put the puck in the back of the net. So I think their game is more in the offensive zone, grinding teams down low, playing away from the puck, that sort of thing. I definitely think that can be a factor in terms of depth."
On Playing Playoff Hockey: "I can't wait. I think I speak for all of the guys on the team that we're anxious and eager to get going. Obviously, with the family, you tried to enjoy the last few months with them, and (their absence in the playoffs is) certainly going to be an aspect that's not easy. But we understand that this isn't really a completely ideal situation. It's going to be a little bit odd, a little bit bizarre. But I think it's just what you make of it, and all the guys mentally have the proper mindset."
Quotes transcribed by Colorado Avalanche's Zach Shapiro