CENTENNIAL, Colo.--With the beginning of the preseason just two days away, the Colorado Avalanche focused its practice drills on in-game situations on the third day of the team's training camp.
Colorado ran controlled scrimmages during on-ice sessions on Sunday morning at Family Sports Center, giving players a chance to compete with each other while also getting time to reset if head coach Jared Bednar deemed a teaching moment was necessary.
"It was more system today so we can make sure we're ready for the exhibition games," said defenseman Samuel Girard. "It was a fun practice. It is always fun to get back on the ice with the boys and with some new players as well."
The players were once again split into two groups for the morning sessions, which were then further broken up to two teams: Team Blue and Team White. There was also a "Team Gray" that featured newly-drafted players and young prospects and rotated in with the other two squads.
After about an hour of drills and scrimmages, Bednar ended practice with a little conditioning set as the players did some hard skating--mini mountains--in the neutral zone.
Colorado opens its preseason slate on Tuesday at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, who began their exhibition schedule on Sunday afternoon versus the Arizona Coyotes. The Avs wrap up 2019 training camp on Monday at Family Sports Center with practices beginning at 8:15 a.m.
Valeri Nichushkin joined his Avalanche teammates for his first practice on Sunday after having a delayed start to his training camp while his immigration got settled.
The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native arrived in Colorado on Friday and did his medical and physical testing on Saturday. He was paired on a line with Matt Nieto and J.T. Compher for his first on-ice session on Sunday.
"I think the boys are great here. I think it's gone pretty well," Nichushkin said to ColoradoAvalanche.com. "Everybody asked why I came so late, but it was in fun. Not fun to have my passport take a while, so that is why I came late for camp. Practice was pretty fast, a little hard for me for the first day."
The forward signed with the Avs as a free agent on Aug. 19, 2019 after spending four seasons with the Dallas Stars. He had also played two years in Russia's KHL from 2016-2018.
Nikita Zadorov left practice early on Sunday after suffering an apparent injury, and Bednar did not have an update on the defenseman's condition during his media availability.
Fellow blueliner Kevin Connauton has practiced every day at Avs training camp, but he remains in a non-contact jersey while also wearing a full shield on his helmet. Connauton, who is recovering from a broken cheek bone, participated in drills on a defensive pairing that rotated between Josh Anderson and Sasha Larocque.
Erik Johnson (shoulder) and Ian Cole (hips) continued their recovery by skating on their own and doing drills with Colorado on-ice performance consultant Shawn Allard while Group 2's session was going on.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Andre Burakovsky
Erik Condra - Jayson Megna - Nick Henry
Samuel Girard - Cale Makar
Jacob MacDonald - Nicolas Meloche
Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Valeri Nichushkin
A.J. Greer - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Logan O'Connor
Ryan Graves - Mark Barberio
Josh Anderson - Sasha Larocque
Team Gray: Travis Barron - Josh Dickinson - Brandon Saigeon
Group 1 Goalies: Philipp Grubauer, Hunter Miska
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Ty Lewis - Shane Bowers - Michael Joly
Nikita Zadorov - Conor Timmins
Anton Lindholm - Peter Tischke
Matt Calvert - Vladislav Kamenev - Colin Campbell
Sheldon Dries - TJ Tynan - Martin Kaut
Bowen Byram - Calle Rosen
Dan Renouf - Mark Alt
Team Gray: Sasha Mutala - Igor Shvyrev - Luka Burzan - Alex Beaucage
Group 2 Goalies: Pavel Francouz, Adam Werner, Trent Miner