ST. PAUL, Minn. – Rookie Joey Hishon is going to be thrown into the deep end, so to speak.
Hishon will make his NHL debut in Game 4 of the Colorado Avalanche's opening-round series with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. He joined the team late Tuesday night in Minnesota after practicing in Cleveland with the Lake Erie Monsters earlier in the day.
"I can't even explain the emotion. Very anxious, very excited," Hishon said after Wednesday's practice at Xcel Energy Center.
The Avalanche's 2010 first-round draft selection will face a tough task in his first game. Not only will Hishon's first NHL contest be a playoff game, but he will also be asked to contribute on a power play that has struggled all season against the Wild and continues to do so in the postseason. Colorado is 1-for-22 on power-play opportunities in eight games against Minnesota this year.
The first 30 minutes of Wednesday's practice dealt with the power play and special teams as the Avalanche players and coaches focused on quick passes while cycling the puck inside the zone and their breakouts when entering the zone.
Hishon was in the middle of both drills, playing along the half-wall and in front of the net. He had success on the power play in the minors this season, with four of his 10 goals came while the Monsters had the man advantage.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Hishon will play on a power-play unit against the Wild and on the fourth line with center Brad Malone and wing Patrick Bordeleau during even-strength situations. Hishon has previous experience with both Bordeleau and Malone from their time together at Lake Erie.
"You don't always pick the right time to start," Roy said. "If it happens, it happens. This is an opportunity for him. Joey's dream is to play in the NHL one day. Here it is."
Hishon said Roy told him before practice to just be himself and play his game while out on the ice.
"Patrick pulled me aside before practice and said, 'Don't ease into it. Just play and be confident and work hard and everything will be fine,'" Hishon said. "That's what I'm trying to do, just play my game."
The Stratford, Ontario native played 50 games this year with Lake Erie and tallied 24 points.
The Avalanche went 0-for-4 on the power play against the Wild in its Game 3 overtime loss. Colorado leads the series 2-1.