With its preseason schedule halfway completed and the club’s roster down to 27 players, things are starting to shape up as the Avalanche prepares to open the 2009-10 season.
“We have a couple of very important games coming up here; tomorrow night followed by the next night in Dallas,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. “We still have guys who are competing for spots on our club right now, and there’s been some good, healthy competition.”
The Avs will play their fourth preseason tilt tomorrow against the Los Angeles Kings (7:00 p.m., Pepsi Center) before hitting the road to wrap up their exhibition slate. Colorado will face the Dallas Stars on Thursday and then will take on the Kings again on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Hendricks Fighting For Spot Matt Hendricks is one of the players Sacco was alluding to when he mentioned that certain guys were still competing for open jobs. It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time for Hendricks, who has never come this close to making the opening night roster of an NHL club.
A season ago, the forward was one of five players reassigned to Lake Erie on Sept. 28, bringing the Avalanche’s preseason roster down to 28 players at the time. Now, he’s one of 27 players remaining on the roster.
After a solid training camp last year, expectations were high for Hendricks in Lake Erie. However, he suffered a broken foot early in the season while blocking a shot, causing him to miss 12 weeks of action.
“I was really happy with the way camp went last year,” said Hendricks. “I wish I could have stayed longer, obviously, but I was excited to go down to Cleveland and work my way back up.”
The injury itself wasn’t the only factor that held Hendricks back. Because of its location, he wasn’t able to do any lower-body conditioning for the first 10 or 11 weeks of his rehabilitation timeframe. When he finally did get back on the ice, Hendricks says it took him an additional two weeks to get back to game speed.
“Obviously I had a giant hiccup there with the broken foot,” Hendricks noted. “But the coaching staff said if I got back, got in shape and played hard, I’d have the chance to get back to Colorado. That was my ultimate goal, and they stayed true to their word.”
The forward also feels that what he displayed during his four-game stint with the Avalanche a season ago is exactly what he would bring this year, should he make the club.
“Some of the key aspects are to bring a lot of energy and a lot of grit. Bring that sandpaper in the locker room and on the ice if the team needs a boost in morale.”
Preissing Out Following Tuesday’s practice, Sacco stated that defenseman Tom Preissing will be out 4-6 weeks after getting his knee scoped yesterday. Preissing hasn’t appeared in any of the Avalanche’s three preseason contests to date.