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Banged-Up Avs Begin To Get Healthy

Defenseman Mark Barberio returned to the ice on Monday

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--It was the first day of practice for Mark Barberio on Monday after the defenseman missed the first two days of Colorado Avalanche training camp with a minor upper-body injury.

"It was great; no one wants to be sitting out and watching your teammates practice and work hard out there," Barberio said of returning to the ice. "It's tough, even if it's for a few days, it's not easy being on the sidelines. It is just nice to get out there and work hard with those guys."

Barberio was held out of the team's on-ice sessions at training camp after tweaking something during physical testing on Thursday, according to Avs head coach Jared Bednar.

"Wasn't anything serious, just a small muscle spasm in my upper body," Barberio said. "It was more of a precautionary thing. There is no point to push it at this point of the season. Took a few days to recover. Skated yesterday, felt good and am feeling good today, so going in the right direction."

Bednar reiterated what Barberio noted: that the team isn't rushing back players with minor bumps and bruises since Colorado still has 17 days before it opens the regular season in New York.

"He looked pretty good," said Bednar of Barberio. "He had a couple days off there. He tweaked something during the physicals and quickly got better. He was sore the first night that it happened, and then the next morning he was starting to feel better. We kept him off for a day and now he's back out there. He'll be available for us for the games coming up."

Video: Mark Barberio returns to practice after minor injury

Barberio spent the entire first day of camp on Friday off the ice, but he skated on his own while Saturday's practice was happening and on Sunday morning before going to Magness Arena to watch his teammates play in the annual Burgundy/White intrasquad scrimmage.

It appears as if Barberio is the first of a wave of banged-up players that are close to returning to action.

Tyson Barrie, Julien Nantel and Colin Wilson didn't practice with the team on Monday but did go through on-ice drills with Avalanche director of player development David Oliver.

Bednar said that Nantel and Wilson will take the ice again during one of the club's morning skate sessions on Tuesday at Pepsi Center. Both players should be considered doubtful to play in that evening's preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Two notable forwards that didn't skate Monday were Tyson Jost or Joe Colborne. Jost last skated on Friday, while Colborne hasn't taken part in any on-ice activities during training camp. Bednar said Jost is among the injured players that are day-to-day while saying he doesn't think Colborne's ailment "is too serious, but he isn't at the point where we'll put him on the ice."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar previews preseason

With several regular NHL players banged up, Colorado's preseason outing on Tuesday will feature much of the same youth that was in Sunday's Burgundy/White Game.

Bednar revealed that there will be about seven veterans who will suit up against the Golden Knights, and that goaltender Spencer Martin will play the entire contest in net.

The Avalanche head coach's expectations for his players in preseason game No. 1 isn't different from what he's stressed to them during the team's first three practices.

"We got to compete. We got to execute so we can play with pace," said Bednar. "We're studying some line combinations and seeing where some guys might find some chemistry. I want to make sure that we get our power plays together a little bit as we roll through this, and make sure that we get familiar with each other with that when we start that in practice here coming up."

Barberio is unlikely to play in the preseason opener, but he is looking forward to getting into an exhibition soon so he can get a feel for the puck in a game setting.

"That is what the preseason is for, get your timing back, get used to playing with some of the new guys that came in and get back used to playing with your old teammates as well," he said.

Game time for the Avs' contest at Pepsi Center versus the expansion Knights is at 7 p.m. MT, and Altitude will televise the game live. Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 will carry the radio broadcast.

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