The Colorado Avalanche took the ice for a short practice on Friday ahead of the team’s flight to Edmonton, and the team will look to continue its power-play production during the quick back-to-back in Western Canada.
Entering games this weekend against the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, the Avs have scored four times with the man advantage in their last four contests.
Confidence is one of the reasons for the recent goals on special teams.
“Power play is a rhythm based thing in hockey, and I think once you get a good feel, it goes pretty well,” said center Matt Duchene after practice at Family Sports Center. “Right now, we got a good feel for it. We’re moving it quick and everyone’s doing their job, so it’s been good.”
“I think different guys contributing, different guys being able to be hot and different units. That’s helped us,” said Jarome Iginla, who’s scored three of the last four power-play goals for the team. “We’ve worked on it hard, and our confidence is growing. What’s been fortunate is that we have two units to pick up the slack, because one isn’t always hot, so we’ve been supporting each other this year.”
Iginla leads the team with 10 man-advantage goals, a number that also ranks top 10 in the league. Overall, he’s totaled 15 power-play points this season.
How will the team continue that success? Duchene said it comes down to staying focused.
“You don’t ever take anything for granted and think you’re just going to automatically score, it takes hard work and execution,” he said. “We’ve had a good feel lately, and we’re just going to keep going.”
“It’s not that it just came together, we’re still working at it,” Iginla said. “We go over it and try to be focused and pay a lot of attention to it. We still want to keep getting better.”
Also looking to maintain momentum is forward Mikhail Grigorenko.
Grigorenko has picked up assists in his last three outings, most importantly feeding the puck to Iginla for the game-winning goal in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat of the Montreal Canadiens. His point streak ties a career high that was set earlier this season on Nov. 19-23.
“I’m playing with more confidence,” Grigorenko said. “The last 10 games, I’ve been pretty comfortable on the ice. I got a block or two, been making some plays and everything is just working. Guys ended up in good spots, and coach has started to trust me a bit more.”
Playing at left wing on a line with Duchene and Iginla when the team is at even strength, Grigorenko has also contributed to the special-teams effort, with a man-advantage marker right out of the gate versus Winnipeg on Feb. 6.
“I don’t think anyone would not be happy playing with those two guys,” Grigorenko said of his linemates. “They are great players, one of the best players in the league, so I’m fortunate to play with those guys.”
With Iginla also on a hot streak—nine points (four goals and five assists) in his last seven games—Grigorenko is looking to keep producing for a team that has high hopes of a postseason appearance.
“He’s one of the best snipers in the league,” Grigorenko said of Iginla. “Just to see how he works all the time. He gets on the ice early to work on his shot. He’s already scored 600 goals, but he still works on that aspect of his game. That’s impressive, and I just learn from him on and off the ice every single day.”
There was no real news to report from practice, as head coach Patrick Roy did not meet with the media. Roy said on Thursday that Calvin Pickard would be in goal against the Oilers on Saturday, and Semyon Varlamov would get the start on Sunday in Vancouver.