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Mark Alt Ready To Face Former Team

Colorado claimed defenseman on waivers from Philadelphia

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Defenseman Mark Alt was on the ice the last time the Colorado Avalanche faced the Philadelphia Flyers, but he wasn't wearing the Avs' burgundy and blue colors.

Alt was playing for the Flyers when the clubs met earlier this year on Nov. 4 in Philadelphia, but he's swapped the black P-Wing logo for Colorado's "A" emblem for tonight's contest at Pepsi Center.

It will be the third game in a row that the Alt has played in with the Avalanche and his first against his former club, giving the American blueliner plenty of motivation.

"Absolutely," Alt said after morning skate. "I wasn't there too long ago, so it's going to be a fun game." 

The Avs claimed Alt on waivers from the Flyers on Feb. 26, but he didn't make his debut with Colorado until Saturday's outing versus the Vegas Golden Knights. He played third-pairing minutes in that contest and in the second half of the home-and-home set on Monday in Las Vegas, averaging 10:41 in the two games. 

Those were Alt's first NHL contests since Dec. 7 when Philadelphia faced the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's just about getting to know the system and trusting my feet, jumping into the play," said Alt, who practiced for nearly four weeks with Colorado before suiting up in his first game with the team last weekend. "It's just been a learning process try to adjust to this style of hockey, but it's been going well."

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar has been pleased with what he's seen so far from the former high school quarterback and has played him with rookie Samuel Girard during some even-strength situations. 

"I think he's got good vision," Bednar said. "So far, he delivers the puck on time to our forwards. He gives it to them in open ice. He's breaking us out of our zone. He's doing a lot of good things. For a guy that hasn't played a whole lot of hockey this year, I think he's been steady coming in here. I like the fact that he's got that right-handed shot and we can put Girard back on the left on certain occasions." 

Alt attributes his ability to scan the ice in front of him and make the right play with the puck from his time playing football. Alt competed in both sports growing up, but he ultimately chose hockey and committed to his hometown University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

"There are a little bit of similarities too, seeing the ice and dropping back, so I look at it that way," Alt said of the two sports he's played in.

Video: Mark Alt discusses facing his former team

Hockey is still a learning process for the 6-foot-4, 201-pound rear guard, who is looking to stay in the NHL after playing 260 games in American Hockey League. Alt says he's still adjusting to the Avs' system, which is a little different from what the Flyers use.

There are similarities between the two teams, with one of them being how they deploy their D-men. Both clubs want their rear guards to create offense if the opportunity presents itself.

"I think they're a little more methodical," Alt said of the Flyers. "They move the puck well. They have some bigger bodies. Their D are really active up in the play, so it's a little different style of hockey."

SCOREBOARD WATCHING 

Following the Avalanche's loss on Monday at the Vegas Golden Knights, the team was still in a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. This morning, the Avs are on the outside of the playoff picture after the St. Louis Blues jumped them following their overtime win on Tuesday versus the San Jose Sharks.

With the playoff race continuing to tighten up, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar's message to his players remain the same: you can only control what you can control. 

"The focus has to be on our team and what we need to do to get the points we need," Bednar said. "There is a lot of emotion involved in it at this time of the year. Our guys have been so invested in what we've been doing all year long. We know how bad they want it, so you're obviously going to watch a little bit. Days off, you need to try and reset and get refocused on what you need to do on your game. Watching the scoreboard, sometimes it gets you emotionally revved up again, good way or bad way. You just have to go out and take care of your business."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after morning skate

While Colorado is one point out of a playoff spot, the team still has an advantage. The club has a game in hand on the Anaheim Ducks Los Angeles Kings, who are also one point ahead in the standings. The Avs will play both clubs in the final week of the main campaign. 

"We're watching the standings and stuff. There is nothing you can do about it," said Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie. "You just have to go out, and we control our own destiny at this point. We got six games left, if we play well and get some big wins, I think we'll get in."

LINEUP NOTES

Nail Yakupov will return to the Avs' lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last eight games. He'll be on the fourth line with Gabriel Bourque and Dominic Toninato.

The return of Yakupov means Colorado will go back to the traditional alignment of 12 forwards and six defensemen. The Avs had played 11 forwards and seven D-men in the two outings versus the Golden Knights.

There will be a game-time decision in net, as Semyon Varlamov was sick on Wednesday and didn't participate in morning skate. If Varlamov can't go, the start will go to Spencer Martin or Andrew Hammond, who was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage earlier this morning. If Hammond or Martin does paly, it will mark their first NHL game of the season.

Click here to check out the Avs' projected lineup

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