The Colorado Avalanche finished its last practice in Denver on Saturday, before the team travels to Edmonton on Sunday for the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. The Avs begin competitive play on Aug. 2 against the division rival St. Louis Blues but will face the Minnesota Wild in an exhibition game against the Minnesota Wild.
Head coach Jared Bednar and defenseman Ian Cole spoke after practice.
Colorado Head Coach Jared Bednar
On His Overall Impression Of Camp: "I liked our camp a lot. I think as a group we worked hard, there was some good attention to detail, and I think that although it wasn't sustained through the whole camp, when we needed to play with a certain amount of intensity that (we did) as the camp was moving along. We still have some time to get to exactly where we need to be, tactically and with the intensity and competitiveness in the first game. But I think guys are really excited. I really liked our energy out there today. Guys knowing that it's our last skate before we jump on the plane to head to Edmonton tomorrow. So pretty successful camp, and that's because of the hard work the guys put in. I think they did a nice job of getting ready to start the training camp. The roster will be announced tomorrow. The league will announce all the rosters tomorrow, so you'll get ours along with everyone else's."
On His Post-Camp Message To The Team: "We've talked about (the unique nature of this playoff) even at the start of training camp. I think the message from me is we have to be prepared and ready to play meaningful games at the highest possible intensity and competitiveness that we can from the time we get there. We're fortunate that we have an exhibition game and the round-robin games to get to full speed. We're fighting for home ice and those are games we want to win. So the guys that do the best job of getting themselves ready from that competitive standpoint will be the guys who have the most success. And in turn, the more guys we have playing with that intensity, the better we're going to be. So my message is that we have to be willing to play our game longer and harder than our opponent, and that has to start at the drop of the puck in the exhibition game."
On Conor Timmins, Bowen Byram, and Shane Bowers: "Well I liked all three of those guys. All are a little bit different, but I'll start with Timmins. Having seen him in camp a couple of years ago and remembering how much he impressed me at that time, we've seen him kind of step backward from that due to the injuries and time off and whatnot over the last couple of years. Now, having gone through the year in the American League and going through injuries again and watching him come into this camp, I was equally as impressed as I was a couple of years ago. I think that he's matured, he knows what to expect, and he's put himself in the conversation as to where he falls within our 31-man roster. I was impressed with him. I think his puck-moving ability has the potential to be elite, and I think he's a really intelligent player. So the last year has done him some real good. Similarly, I think Bo Byram, average camp when he came in the fall. I didn't have any expectations set for him even though he was an early draft pick. It's sometimes eye-opening when you come to a minicamp and you don't know what to expect, and I think that was the case for him. The year in junior did him good. He and his team were playing well before their pause. And he's worked hard, he looks bigger, stronger, more confident, more involved, and you can tell he's a really smart puck-mover as well. And that's something that's hard to find in a young defenseman. Those guys both seem to be really intelligent and have done a nice job in this camp. So I like the progression. And then Bowers, we kept an eye on him in the American League this year and talked to the coaches about his game. Again, I just compare him now to when I saw him in rookie camp and minicamp, and watch his game now and the way he plays, and I think he's really good in some areas. He's a reliable player in a lot of different areas, even at this level here at our camp. So I think he's got a great future as well. I like his size, his skating ability, he checks hard, and he just plays the right way."
Video: Bednar after the last practice in Denver for Phase 3
Colorado Defenseman Ian Cole
On Staying Focused During The Playoffs: "It's certainly going to be a unique situation. I think it's going to be a little bit like a summer camp, where they try to get a lot of things in the bubble, keep guys entertained. But when it comes down to it, we're there to win hockey games and we're there to win a Stanley Cup. We're not there to watch movies at the theater and go to all the different food trucks they have coming in. So it's not a vacation. It's very much a time to work. I think everyone on this team knows that and everyone is certainly okay with that. We have one goal and that is to win a Stanley Cup. We can be locked in our hotel rooms for every second of the day, but as long as we get a chance to compete for that, then I think we'd be happy. So it's certainly going to be unique. It should be kind of fun in some instances. Obviously you're going to miss your family. But you only get so many opportunities to win the Stanley Cup and this a great opportunity for us."
On Cale Makar Returning To Practice: "He's a pretty decent player, as I'm sure you know. So yeah, it's definitely good to have him back. No one in our room was concerned that it was a long term thing or that he wasn't going to get back. So everyone knew. (We wanted him to) take the time, make sure it gets right, get whatever it is fixed, and then go from there. Like I said, he's a great player and we're certainly a better team with him than without him."
On Temporarily Leaving His Wife And Newborn: "I mean I think when the season got paused we always knew that this could be a possibility. It's not ideal. I don't think anyone wants to be shut into a bubble for potentially two months and some days. I don't think it's something people plan for, but like anything in life, you have to try to make the most of it. Like I said, we're going to have a great opportunity here, an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We're going to try to take advantage of that, and you know hopefully the family will still be there when I get home."
On His Overall Impression of Camp: "It was good. There was always going to be little growing pains, as far as getting rid of some of those bad habits that slipped into your game (during the break). And there was also going to be growing pains as far as getting back into game shape, getting back into the right habits, battling on pucks, being able to win battles and things like that. There's a lot to it there. But I think overall we've done a good job of trying to get back to mid-season or even late-season form as quickly as possible. We're fortunate that we don't have a qualifying round series, but we are going to have seeding games. So we need to be ready, everyone knows that, and we're going to have to be ready to go. I think we've done a good job so far, with certainly some more work to do."
Video: Cole on the mindset of the Avs on heading to Edmonton
Quotes Transcribed by Colorado Avalanche's Zach Shapiro