It's been a maddening week for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. Not just that the club has dropped three games in a row, but that he wasn't able to do anything about it on the ice.
After serving a three-game suspension from the NHL, Barrie is set to make his return to the Avs lineup on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers and looks to help the club get back in the win column.
"It was frustrating. Three games doesn’t seem like much, but when you're sitting out it seems like a long time," Barrie said after Monday's practice at Family Sports Center. "It's kind of unfortunate that the stretch of games we had seemed to be spaced out a bit. It was definitely a long wait for me, so I'm excited to get back in there tomorrow."
Barrie was handed the first suspension of his NHL career after the league's Department of Player Safety determined he interfered with and charged Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres during an Oct. 16 contest.
While being forced to sit and watch the game from afar was anything but ideal for the young blueliner, it did give him a different perspective of what was happening on the ice.
"There is definitely some benefits from watching the game from up top in the press box," he said. "You can see things with that you maybe have a little more time than you think you do or whatever it is. The game looks so easy from up there."
Barrie also made the most of his time on the ice when he got the chance. The rear guard took full advantage of each practice and stayed late after every team session, going through extra drills with the coaching staff.
"I worked hard with the coaches to make the practices as game-like as they could and stayed in as good of shape as I can," Barrie said. "I might be coming out in better shape. I skated pretty hard. I am excited to get back in there, and I feel good and comfortable."
After registering 53 points (12 goals and 41 assists) last season to become the first defenseman on the club to reach the 50-point mark since Rob Blake in 2001-02, the Victoria, British Columbia, native will add another layer to Colorado's offense during the three-game road trip. So far, he has two assists through four games this year.
"Obviously, it's going to help the power play," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said of having the 24-year-old D-man back in the lineup. "It's going to help offensively. Tyson is an important player on our team. It will be nice to have him back, for sure."
Barrie practiced on Monday with Nick Holden, and the defensive duo is expected to start Tuesday's game as a pairing.