NEWARK, N.J.--The Colorado Avalanche will have at least two players make their season debuts in New Jersey.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier and defenseman Nikita Zadorov will skate for the Avs in their Saturday afternoon contest against the New Jersey Devils, and there could possibly be a few more additions to the lineup as well. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar did not say after Friday's practice who he was going to scratch against the Devils.
"We're still going to make some decisions based on what we're looking at on the video and how we think last night's game went," Bednar said following the team's skate at New Jersey's practice rink inside Prudential Center.
Zadorov missed the first game because Bednar wanted to make sure that he was totally caught up after missing the first week of training camp. Zadorov was a restricted free agent and signed with the club on Sept. 15, but he wasn't able to join his teammates until Sept. 21 as he was getting his work visa straightened out.
Bednar did not say who the 6-foot-5, Russian rear guard would play with against New Jersey.
"I think it is important to put him in tomorrow because I think he could help us," Bednar said of Zadorov. "I think it was important to keep him out last night because we have to make sure that everyone is on the same page coming into this thing. So we have some tough decisions to make, no doubt, but based on our last game, we have high expectations set for everyone. Part of the reason why Nikita was out, and someone will come out tomorrow and then we'll regroup and keep taking it day-by-day."
Forward Carl Soderberg joined Zadorov as healthy scratches in New York, and he joined the club's fourth line from Thursday night during the team's practice.
Colorado officially recalled Anton Lindholm from the San Antonio Rampage on Friday, and the defenseman joined the club for practice in Newark. Lindholm was one of the last players to be cut before the start of the season, as he was sent down to the American Hockey League on Tuesday.
Lindholm practiced on a defensive pairing with Zadorov during 5-on-5 drills.
Bernier's start in goal will be his first of the regular season with the Avs after he signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The netminder missed a week of practice after suffering a minor groin injury on Sept. 25, but he has been a full participant in all of the team's on-ice sessions this week.
"I feel pretty good. Obviously when you miss a week, the first few practices it feels like you lost that instinct with the shooter and things like that," Bernier told ColoradoAvalanche.com after Wednesday's practice in Denver. "But the leg is feeling good, the breathing is feeling good, and I'm excited to get started."\
The Avalanche held a 30-minute practice on Friday to work on some things the team could have done better against the Rangers. While Colorado picked up a 4-2 victory, New York held a 39-26 edge in shots and was buzzing around the Avs end in the third period.
"We got to find a way to win the game. Obviously being 3-2 ahead and pulling it through at the end, the pressure was on them to get another goal," said forward Sven Andrighetto of Colorado's win the night before in Manhattan. "We just have to play our game, and that's what we did. You got to find a way to win hockey games like that. It doesn't always have to be pretty, some of them are going to be ugly, but it's definitely a good start for us."
Picking up a victory in a tough arena like Madison Square Garden on opening night is a good start to the season, and the Avs are now looking to build on that as they turn their attention to the Devils, who will be playing their first game of the season.
"Even though we won, we recognized that we were a little opportunistic and relied on our goalie too much," Bednar said. "We did have good juice and enthusiasm in our room, and we want that to continue. We want our guys to be positive."
Saturday's contest in Jersey will be the team's second of a three-game road trip to begin the year. It will also be the first of back-to-back matinees as the Avs play an afternoon outing at the Boston Bruins on Monday. Colorado's home opener is Wednesday versus the Bruins.