Despite dropping a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Colorado Avalanche has to be encouraged by the key contributions the club received from several of its young players.
Rookies Cody McLeod
, T.J. Hensick and David Jones
were just a few of the names that had standout performances for the Avs on Tuesday. Now, they will have to repeat – or even improve upon – their high level of play Thursday as the Avalanche attempts to stave off elimination in Game Four.
Two of those rookies connected to notch the game’s opening goal, as McLeod redirected a Hensick attempt into Detroit’s net early in the first period. The goal was the first of McLeod’s postseason career, while Hensick’s assist came in his first career playoff game.
“We’re getting an opportunity to play because of some injuries right now,” said McLeod. “For the most part we’re contributing, but I think we’re going to have to step it up in Game Four. With so many key players out, we need everyone to play well.”
Although he had not played an NHL contest since Feb. 22 and last played at any level on April 13th during the Lake Erie Monsters’ season finale, Hensick impressed Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville
with his performance. Hensick totaled three shots on goal and a +1 rating in 14:07 of ice time to go along with his assist in his postseason debut.
“I thought he played a heck of a game,” said Quenneville. “He gave us some good energy, gave us some speed and he was a threat when he was out there. It’s nice to see a kid like that come in and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Fellow rookie Jones didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but led the team with five shots on goal in 12:41, using his 6-foot-2 frame to his advantage on an assortment of drives to the net.
“I think my skating is my biggest asset,” said Jones. “I just try to drive the puck wide and get it to the net. I was doing that last night and hopefully I can bear down and finish one of those chances.”