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Kadri Happy With Avalanche Debut

Forward reflects on his season opener in Colorado

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--As far as new team debuts go, Nazem Kadri was overall pleased with how his first game with the Colorado Avalanche went.

The Avs' new second-line center played 17:17, won 12-of-21 faceoffs (57 percent), had three shots on goal and nine shot attempts on Thursday night in the 2019-20 season opener. He also nearly potted his first goal in burgundy and blue just five minutes into the new season, but his shot rang off the crossbar as he was falling to the ice.

"That one kept me up last night," Kadri said with a laugh to ColoradoAvalanche.com on the goal that never was. "I know every single game I'm going to get my opportunities, just caught a little off balance there. I don't know quite know how I missed that one, but maybe midseason it might have been a little bit different."

More important for Kadri was that the Avs began the campaign in the win column with a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center. Colorado recorded two power-play goals and had a strong start that saw the squad outshoot Calgary by a 14-3 margin in the opening period.

"Dominated for most part of the game, and I thought we deserved that result," Kadri said. "Obviously, we got a little sloppy at times, but that is expected on opening night. I think everyone is trying to shake out the nerves. You know, tighten it up a little bit."

Kadri was one of six players that made their debuts with Avalanche on Thursday night, but his might been the most notable after coming to Colorado in the offseason in a six-piece trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kadri was Toronto's first-round draft pick in 2009 and spent nine-plus seasons with that organization before trading his Maple Leaf crest for an Avalanche one.

Opening night usually provides nerves for players regardless of the situation or how long they've played in the league, and Kadri's home opener in Denver was no different.

"I was actually OK, I think I've been around long enough to know how to handle it," he said of how his first game with a new club went. "Certainly a little anxious, just wanted to get to puck drop and get the first couple shifts under my belt. Overall, I think it went really well."

Video: Nazem Kadri talks about last night's game vs. Calgary

Wearing the Avalanche colors was surely a different look for the London, Ontario, native who had repped the Leafs' blue and white for his entire NHL career, but his approach to the contest was the same as it would have been heading into any game, and with any team.

"I think overthinking it is just not going to do well for you," he said. "You just have to approach it like any other game and go through your routine. After the puck is dropped and the first couple shifts out of the way, then it is just playing hockey."

Kadri led a line that had Tyson Jost on the left wing and Andre Burakovsky on the right, and while the line didn't tally any markers, they created offensive opportunities with eight shots on goal.

"He's awesome. He's going to be a huge part of our team," Jost said of Kadri. "I thought our line was good. We had a lot of chances, generated a lot of stuff. We didn't bury one, but we had a ton of chances. We got to keep that up and they're bound to go in if we keep playing like that."

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said postgame that he liked a lot of what his club did in Game 1 of 82, but there was plenty of areas that could be cleaned up by nearly every player on the roster.

Kadri agreed with Bednar's assessment the following day but also said that the early indications of the team's play could be a good sign for the rest of the campaign.

"At times there can be some miscommunication, but overall I thought we looked really good, really fast," Kadri said. "We answered with some physicality and grit. Just a little bit of everything. I think on the defensive side of things, I think we can clean it up a little bit. Once we do, that's only going to benefit us."

PRACTICE UPDATE

The Avs skated for roughly 30 minutes on Friday in a practice session that was sandwiched between the first two games of the year.

Joonas Donskoi didn't take to the ice as head coach Jared Bednar said the forward was given a maintenance day. Donskoi did participate in the team's Hockey Fights Cancer Break The Ice clinic later in the afternoon.

Taking Donskoi's place on a line with J.T. Compher and Matt Nieto at practice was Colin Wilson, who was scratched on Thursday. Bednar said Thursday morning that Wilson is still getting up to speed after missing most of training camp and all but one preseason game while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and a lower-body muscle tweak.

Defenseman Ian Cole (hip surgery) took every drill in practice, but he did so while wearing a red, non-contact jersey.

Colorado continues its four-game homestand to begin 2019-20 on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

Video: Jared Bednar talks with the media after practice

PRACTICE COMBINATIONS

Forwards
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
17 Tyson Jost - 91 Nazem Kadri - 95 Andre Burakovsky
83 Matt Nieto - 37 J.T. Compher - 22 Colin Wilson
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert - 81 Vladislav Kamenev

Defensemen
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 20 Conor Timmins
28 Ian Cole * - 44 Mark Barberio

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz
* Non-contact participant

Did Not Practice: Joonas Donskoi

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