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Avs Mix Up Forward Combinations on New Year's Day

The Avalanche practiced at Family Sports Center to open 2020

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche opened the New Year with a practice that featured a few new-look lines.

Mikko Rantanen was on a line with Matt Nieto and J.T. Compher, while Nazem Kadri moved to a trio with Valeri Nichushkin and Matt Calvert. Tyson Jost, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky and Vladislav Kamenev were all taking reps together on a line. The only group that was the same during the 40-minute session as how it has been was Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon with Joonas Donskoi.

"I've split some of those guys up because I feel like some of those guys that those guys are playing with have been real consistent, hard-working guys," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Coming up with pucks on the forecheck, trusted defensively, turning pucks back over with a secondary forecheck to get us sustained offensive-zone time. They have been producing on a regular basis.

"I am trying to put some of those guys off that line with players that have been consistently hard for us, and see if we can't get back to our structure on all of our lines and see if some of our workers can help some of our skill and some of our skill can help our workers."

Recently, the Avalanche has been able to produce offensively, but Bednar wants his team to be more sound defensively.

The Avs registered 43 shots in a 7-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, the third straight game Colorado has recorded 40 or more shots on net. It marked the third time since the club moved to Denver that it has recorded 40 shots in three straight contests.

In Colorado's last five outings, the team is 1-3-1 and has allowed 13 third period goals, although four of those have been into an empty net.

"If you look at it in the simplest form, why we are losing hockey games right now, it is not because we are not producing, it has nothing to do with that. We have so many chances last night to score, but we lose the game because we didn't defend well enough through four lines and through the D-corps," said Bednar. "Part of that is a little extra competitiveness, staying aggressive in a defending mindset where we are going to close plays out and working extremely hard to close plays out instead of just being content with contain mode… Right now, I feel like this might help us, you know those guys might help drag some of the other guys into battle a little bit."

Colorado returns to action on Thursday when it hosts the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center for the first time this season in a Division Rivalry game.

Video: Coach Jared Bednar after practice

Forwards

92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 91 Nazem Kadri - 11 Matt Calvert
83 Matt Nieto - 37 J.T. Compher - 96 Mikko Rantanen
17 Tyson Jost - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 95 Andre Burakovsky - 81 Vladislav Kamenev

Defensemen

27 Ryan Graves - 8 Cale Makar
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
28 Ian Cole - 16 Nikita Zadorov
44 Mark Barberio

Goaltenders

31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Injuries: Colin Wilson

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