If you wondered just how much the Olympic Break compressed the NHL’s schedule last year when compared to a normal season, look no further than the Avalanche’s current schedule.
After playing nine games within the first 20 days of the season, the Avs are in the midst of a stretch during which they play just two games in eight days. Following Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado has four full days to rest up and practice before taking on the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a lot better than last year,” forward David Jones
said of this year’s schedule. “I think because of the Olympics they tried to jam a lot more games into a shorter amount of time.”
The long break gives the Avalanche a chance to both take a little bit of a breather and fine-tune a few areas of the game that may have been problematic early in the season. The team didn’t practice Sunday, but was back on the ice this morning for an hour-long skate. Looking forward, Colorado will not skate tomorrow, instead getting back to work on Wednesday.
“Well, the first thing is to take a good day to rest,” said center Ryan O’Reilly. “For me personally, I want to get in two really good workouts and gain some ground physically and get ready for these next few games coming up.”
That begs another question. With three more days until their next game, is it good for the team to start focusing hard on Thursday’s game against the Canucks, or would it be more beneficial to put the contest in the back of their minds for the time-being in an effort to not over-think things?
“Anytime it’s more than a day before the game it’s about getting out there, working hard and getting the legs going. Then, the day before the game we’ll work on a little bit of special teams and stuff like that so you don’t really bury yourself before the games,” said Jones. “But we’re thinking about (Vancouver) a little bit. I think it’s in the back of our minds. We had a good win on Saturday, but you can only enjoy that for so long.”
And even though the season is less than a month old, it’s a safe bet that most of the players are at least a little banged up and will welcome a few days away from the rink with the objective of staying healthy in the long run.
“Rest is a big thing. Especially with everyone having a few bumps and bruises,” added O’Reilly. “It’s a good time to recover from those and get back to 100 percent for Vancouver.”