The Colorado Avalanche had its first team practice on Monday after clinching a spot for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday.
Below are some select quotes from head coach Jared Bednar's post-practice media availability.
Colorado Head Coach Jared Bedar
On Right Wing Mikko Rantanen's Health:
"He's been progressing just like we've hoped he would. Today he's getting some contact, light contact, looks like he's doing everything unrestricted so we'll see how he comes in today. Looks like he's a potential player for us on Thursday."
On Right Wing Mikko Rantanen Wearing A Regular Contact Sweater For The Next Practice:
"Yeah, that could be."
On Goaltender Philipp Grubauer Starting Game 1:
"I'll tell you on Thursday morning."
On How Helpful Having Playoff Experience Will Be:
"I'm hoping a lot. I think it's helped down the stretch. We were in a similar situation last year. We finished 2-5-1 but we won the right games to get in. And now, this year, we got in the playoffs going 10-0-2. A lot of similar games, lots of high-importance games, and games that were must win and that we needed to win. We stepped up as a team and as individuals, guys elevating their game and that's what we have to do in the playoffs again. I really liked the competitiveness of our team in the playoffs last year. I thought it was the highest it was and needed to be in the series against Nashville. I expect our team to elevate again but, I think that it can help us that we played important games down the stretch. And, you know, it's these games, to be honest, they're no different. We needed to win those hockey games down the stretch and we did. And the same mindset is going to help us in the series with Calgary."
On Having A Healthy Lineup:
"I would say we're going to this first round as healthy as we can hope for. Looks to me like Mikko's going to be ready, we got all our key guys in. Our roster is basically all available to us and that's the way you want to go into it. You know, you're never going to feel perfect at this time of year as a player so you have to be able to play when you're not 100 percent. We will have some guys that do that, but so will they."
On Reasons Behind Goalie Philipp Grubauer's Rise:
"I don't know exactly. Focus, determination, his work ethic, will to succeed. He put a lot of work in and his game was just okay for a stretch in the middle of the season and he's a competitor. He worked through it, he studied film. He'd watch and he practiced, you know, you can do the preparation to make yourself a better player come game time and he really did that and it showed. Confidence helps too, he makes a few saves, gets a few wins, team starts feeling good about him, he feels good about it."
On Having More Recent Playoff Experience Than Calgary:
"I don't think either team is loaded with playoff experience, but when you add guys like Cole, Grubauer into your mix, they've added a couple guys like Neal, it can help. I think it's more within the series than actual drop of the puck Game 1. I think both teams are feeling confident in what they do, and rightly so. And you come out in Game 1 and you try and play your game as best you can, at a high level as you can. Managing some of the ups and downs and momentum swings within the series, I think the playoff experience becomes more important. I think if we look at last year there's things we can learn out of that series. We made it a tough series but, make no mistake about it, we're going in to win this one and that's our mindset. I think our guys getting a taste of it last year, we're hungry for it this year. So, I'm anxious to see what our guys will do."
On Message For The Team:
"Well, number one: Calgary's a real good team. We have to respect that and respect what they've done. They have 107 points, they ran away with the Western Conference, they're second in goals for, top 10 in goals against. They got super star players, I think it's five guys with 70 points-plus. There's a lot of guys you have to pay attention to. They have a five-man attack, their defense helps a lot. Guys like Giordano, I think he finished with 17 goals. So, they have a lot of impact players. We have to be ready to go and play our best, we know that. At the same time, I think that our finish to our season should give us a lot of confidence that we can go beat anybody. Because we beat really good teams down the stretch to get in in games that mattered to us but also to them, and their seeding and trying to get into the playoffs. So, that should give our team a lot of confidence in what we do and the way we want to play and that's important too. We want to make sure that we're aware of their strengths and weaknesses but we have to play our game. Play to the best of our ability and execute under pressure. There's going to be a lot of pressure in this series. Both teams can skate, both teams can make plays in your face-style. So we got to be prepared for that and be ready from the drop of the puck."