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Avalanche Enters Season's Homestretch

Colorado has 12 games remaining in its regular season schedule

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Rested and refocused, the Colorado Avalanche is ready to continue its push for the playoffs with just over three weeks remaining in the regular season

The Avalanche had three days between games and used the last of which on Thursday to have one of its longer team practices in recent weeks. Every healthy player took part in the 45-minute session at Family Sports Center in preparation for Friday's matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.

"We haven't had a lot of time to practice with all the games, and I thought we had good work out there today and competitiveness and detail," said forward J.T. Compher. "It's huge to get that work in before this stretch run."

Colorado has 12 games in 23 days left on its schedule that features several key matchups. The Avs have remaining outings against the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, all clubs they're battling for a spot with for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche is 8-4-1 in its last 15 games, and head coach Jared Bednar stressed the need for his team to be as consistent as possible during the stretch run.

"We've seen some really good hockey by our group here recently, and it's got to be every night," Bednar said. "It's 12 games. We got to lay it on the line every night and find a way to get results. Even last game, we felt we played a pretty good game and didn't get the result we wanted. We have to find a way to get results."

Colorado has used the last two days to have video sessions of the team's even-strength and special-teams play and then translated that into action at Thursday's practice. The Avs split up their on-ice session with those situations and then closed by reviewing their tracking and D-zone coverage.

"These three days between games, it's the last little break," Bednar said. "You got to tune things up before you get a three-week push."

Colorado's contest on Friday against Anaheim is the third of a four-game homestand, which concludes with a Sunday matinee versus the New Jersey Devils. The Avalanche and Ducks are meeting for the third and final time this season, with the team's splitting the first two matchups.

With a couple days of rest over the last several days, that recovery could be paramount for the team heading into the weekend and final weeks of the main campaign.

"It's a grind every night, and mentally as much as physically," Bednar said. "You're stressing over the results every night. You're stressing over you're games, and it's a little bit harder to get your rest. I think it's important to step away from it for a day or two, like we did. We also have a few guys that are banged up a little bit, so hopefully they come out of this three-day break here kind of rested, recharged, mentally focused and ready to go because it's a three-week push. It's all it is to the end of the season."

QUOTABLES

Defenseman Samuel Girard on the club's upcoming opponents: "Every team can beat any team in the league, so we just have to play our game to make sure we're ready for tomorrow."

Video: Girard discusses the Ducks after practice

Left Wing J.T. Compher on the day's practice: "It's been a good three days recovering and had a good practice today. A competitive practice, and a few video sessions. So I think we'll be ready to go tomorrow and for the rest of this stretch."

Video: J.T. Compher on the break between games

Head Coach Jared Bednar on the Anaheim Ducks: "We got to jump them from the start. I think It's back-to-back, three (games) in four (days) for them. We got to have a good start and the energy has got to be up and try and seize that game right away in the first period."

Video: Avs head coach Jared Bednar after practice

PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS

Derick Brassard - Nathan MacKinnon - J.T. Compher
Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot - Tyson Jost - Matt Calvert
Gabriel Bourque - Andrew Agozzino - Sven Andrighetto

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth
Ryan Graves

Philipp Grubauer and Semyon Varlamov

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