The Avalanche practiced Friday morning in preparation for a three-game road trip against Pacific Division opponents, which will commence Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles and will also feature games against Anaheim (Sunday) and San Jose (Tuesday).
Currently 11 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the general vibe coming out of Colorado’s dressing room is “this isn’t over yet.”
John-Michael Liles, like the rest of his teammates, notes that this team has already proven they can string together five or six wins if they play the right way – which means utilizing their speed and being ready from the first puck drop.
And if they can do that, it might just give the club enough of its confidence and swagger back to make a run at one of the final postseason spots.
First, according to Liles, the young Avalanche team may have to get over a few mental hurdles and find ways to battle back in games they fall behind.
“We came out the other night, we go down 1-0 and it’s just one of those things. As a young team, you can’t get too far into your own head and sometimes we do that,” said Liles. “I thought we were playing pretty well, I thought we were getting pucks deep and working hard. It’s just a matter of continuing that throughout the game.”Elliott To Start, Foote On The Trip
Netminder Brian Elliott will be given his second straight start when the Avs face the Kings on Saturday.
Elliott made 26 saves in his Avalanche debut, a 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, and Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco wants to put his new goaltender right back to work and give him a chance to come back with a solid performance.
“I think that he needs an opportunity to respond,” said Sacco. “That game was a tough game to play in. He hadn’t been with the team for five or six days as he was going through his process. We had played back-to-back nights. I thought actually he was fine. Obviously the last couple of goals, I’m sure he’d like to have those back. We’ll give him another opportunity tomorrow afternoon.”
As expected, captain Adam Foote will join the team on its road swing, although there is no firm timetable for his return from a leg injury suffered on Feb. 7 at Phoenix.
“I’m hoping that he’ll be available to us some point on the trip. I don’t know when yet,” said Sacco.
Sacco Talks O’Byrne
Sacco also touched on the status of Ryan O’Byrne, who suffered a severe facial laceration against Edmonton that required approximately 100 stitches. O’Byrne made an appearance at the Avalanche’s practice facility today, but did not skate.
“I had a chance to see him this morning,” said Sacco. “He looks good. I’ll tell you what, he looks better than I thought he would, considering what I’d seen when he was coming back to the bench from that injury. I think the doctor did a really good job sewing him up. There’s some swelling there this morning, but his spirits are good, he looks good.”
Sacco also noted that O’Byrne, who will likely be out 7-to-10 days, was fortunate that the skate caught him in the cheek. Without question, if the blade had struck him in a different spot, things could have been much worse.
“I watched the game the next day, and he stayed out there for almost 45 seconds after he received that cut to his face,” said Sacco. “He tried to get the puck out of the zone, he stayed on the ice. Actually, it was pretty good. I was pretty inspired by that because his face was basically torn apart, so it says a lot about that kid.”