Since first stepping on the ice for training camp, Avalanche players have repeatedly said that they can’t wait for the season to start.
On Thursday that feeling became a little more of a reality as the players dressed in their own locker room and practiced on their own ice at Pepsi Center for the first time this season.
“It nice to get back in our locker room,” said David Jones. “It feels as if the season is upon us. We are all really excited.”
Colorado had spent the previous four days of training camp at their practice facility at the South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo., but they worked out at their home arena on Thursday.
For free agent acquisitions John Mitchell, PA Parenteau and Greg Zanon, it was the first time that they put on their equipment in the home locker room.
Parenteau, who played two games at Pepsi Center as a member of the New York Islanders, said the day was good for him to get acquainted with his new surroundings.
“Its fun to be here today and get a feel for our home ice,” Parenteau said. “I think the guys are getting ready and are excited for Saturday.”
Zanon has the most experience of the three new Avs players at Pepsi Center, as he played in 14 games at the arena while a member of the Nashville Predators and the Minnesota Wild. Mitchell has only played in Denver once, in January 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Gabriel Landeskog said although he can’t wait for Tuesday’s home opener against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, him and his teammates know they first need to take care of business on Saturday in Minnesota – the forward’s first game as the new team captain.
As of Thursday, Landeskog said he isn’t nervous about leading the team out on the ice against the Wild with the ‘C’ patch sewed onto his left shoulder, but that might change on game day.
“Right now I would say that I am pretty calm, but we’ll see, maybe in warm-ups and when I put the jersey over my head it might change,” Landeskog said. “It’s just like any other game, except for the jersey. If we can go in there and get the win, it would mean a lot more.”
Like Wednesday, Thursday’s training camp was based on special teams with the Avs doing situational 5-on-4 and 4-on-4 scrimmaging for a good portion of the practice.
Colorado will be back at the Family Sports Center on Friday morning (around 10 a.m.) for the last day of training camp and what will likely be a light practice before the team flies to the Twin Cities later in the day.
“The guys are certainly ready to play,” said head coach Joe Sacco. “They’re anxious, they’re excited, there is a lot of enthusiasm. One more good day of practice and then we are off and running.”
Notable: Defenseman Ryan Wilson returned to practice on Thursday after missing the previous day’s activities… Chuck Kobasew was sick and did not practice. He missed the first day of training camp on Sunday with the same illness… Head coach Joe Sacco said he plans on using the usual 12 forwards and six defensemen for Saturday’s game in Minnesota. If Kobasew is still ill on Saturday, it would likely mean that left wing Patrick Borderleau would be inserted into lineup; giving the 26-year old the opportunity to play in his first NHL game. Sacco did say he might change his mind on using 12 forwards over the next two days.