News and notes from Colorado Avalanche practice.
The Colorado Avalanche hits the road to take on the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday without captain Gabriel Landeskog in the lineup. The forward was suspended three games on Thursday for cross-checking Simon Despres in the club’s 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
“I am mad at myself,” he said. “There is no excuse for anything like that. That doesn’t belong on the ice, or in any hockey game, or in any league. It’s just a really dumb play.”
The absence of Landeskog will be felt, but forward Jarome Iginla knows Colorado’s focus is to keep pushing toward a playoff spot as the regular season winds down.
“It’s unfortunate for sure. He is a big part of our team and a leader on this team,” said the veteran. “But you know, we got to keep going. We got to find ways to win games. Three is going to go quick. It will be great to get him back, but in the meantime, we got to win games.”
Defenseman Erik Johnson agreed that the team’s focus needs to be on the games at hand.
“I think there are always guys that step up in a key guy’s absence,” said the blueliner. “As much as it hurts to lose him, we got to focus on the guys that are playing. No one is going to feel sorry for us. It’s just one of those situations, you got to battle through it and just focus on the players that are playing.”
Although Landeskog will not be on the ice against the Jets on Saturday, the 23-year-old forward will travel with the team.
“First of all, he’s our captain. The captain, you want him around,” Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said after practice on Friday. “I want to see him working really hard in the practices, making sure that he doesn’t lose a beat at all.
“We are just going to move on and focus on our next game, and Landy will focus on his next game against Edmonton. They are always tough calls, but at the same time the league has been really clear that with the head shots they were going to protect the players.”
Landeskog has been a valuable part of the Avalanche offense, having registered seven points (three goals, four assists) in the past seven contests. He will continue to work to stay fresh while serving his suspension.
“It is what it is now, and I know the team’s going to do fine. I know they are going to have a good road trip,” said the Swede. “I am just going to make sure that I am in good shape and I am ready when I come back.”
Roy also said that the club is not planning on recalling anyone from the San Antonio Rampage, the club’s AHL affiliate, for the next three contests. Andreas Martinsen will take Landeskog’s spot in the lineup.
“[Martinsen] played so well last game, I was very happy with him,” said Roy. “He scored a big goal for us, and we are going to use him on the right side on [Landeskog’s] line.
“We have eight ‘D,’ and if something happened, those guys are capable of playing big minutes. If we have to play 11 forwards, I am very comfortable as well.”
The Avalanche is in a tight playoff race with the Minnesota Wild for the second wild-card spot, and every point matters.
“For us, it’s 13 games left. They are going to go really fast,” said Iginla. “We are inside, it’s a month, and a win like that against Anaheim, who is playing really well, who is a very good team, it should give us confidence.
“Now it’s Winnipeg, and there is nobody in here that is letting up. It’s not about where the other team is in the standings, it’s literally about us trying to move up and clinch a playoff spot. It’s going to be fun this last month. It’s been fun this last week or so when you realize you are in that actual home stretch. We believe we can do it, but [we’re] just focusing on Winnipeg.”