With 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Colorado Avalanche knows the value of confidence and is looking to find more of it during this four-game stint at Pepsi Center.
The Avs opened the homestand on Thursday night with a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, and their next three contests will be against Western Conference teams. First off is the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon.
New to Colorado, forward Shawn Matthias has played four contests in an Avalanche sweater since he was acquired from Toronto and is doing what he can to help the team make the playoffs.
“You know you got to have confidence, and I think that’s what we have talked about. Having that little bit of swagger,” he said after practice on Friday. “But at the same time, just simplifying it. It doesn’t need to be a pretty play late in the game when you are winning, especially this time of year when you are fighting for a playoff spot.
“Just get pucks out. Compete, work hard, get down in their end, hold on to it and you know good things are going to happen. Every game matters right now, we need to play a full 60 every night.”
Defenseman Nick Holden, who is in his third season with Colorado, agrees with Matthias.
“We have to make sure that we are playing good, playing solid and playing a full 60 minutes,” said the 28-year-old blueliner. “Obviously you have to focus on the little things that they are doing, but our game plan can’t change too much to them. We just have to bring what we have.”
After Friday’s practice, head coach Patrick Roy said goaltender Calvin Pickard will be in the crease on Saturday. Pickard made 24 saves in the third period and 38 overall on Thursday to help the Avalanche get the win.
“It will be pretty much the same lineup as last game. Pickard will play,” said Roy. “I think right now, what’s going on is he is confident. He is playing big in his net.”
He also noted defenseman Eric Gelinas will not participate in Saturday’s game. Gelinas was acquired from the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline on Monday and only played in the contest on Tuesday in Minnesota before suffering a minor injury.
“His back has been bothering him, and he won’t play tomorrow,” Roy said. “I am sure he will play soon.”
Colorado is currently tied with the Minnesota Wild at 70 points for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Nashville holds the first wild-card position with 76 points.
MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY
Colorado’s matchup against Nashville will mark its fifth annual Military Appreciation Day, presented by Avaya. There will be multiple ceremonies in celebrating past and present Military personnel, including a special pregame event where every branch of the United States military will be acknowledged.
“You got to respect what they are doing for us so we have the freedoms to play this game and to live like we do,” Holden said of the event. “To be able to give one game is just a kind of minor thing, but it is nice to be able to get those guys out there and say thank you to them.”
Avalanche players will also wear special camouflage jerseys during warmup that will then be auctioned off online starting on Monday. The proceeds will benefit Kroenke Sports Charities, which supports various agencies, including military organizations. The auction can be found at http://auctions.nhl.com/avalanche.