The Colorado Avalanche held morning skate at SAP Center before Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. The series is tied 2-2.
Here is what some of the Avalanche players and head coach Jared Bednar had to say following the pregame practice.
On The Wild Card Teams: "All the teams are so good, it's so hard to win, the teams are so close and I've said it before, it's not necessarily the team that finishes with the most points, it's who's playing the best going into the playoffs. You've got teams that are ramping up their game, second half of the year they're playing meaningful games, high-intensity games. They find out some things about themselves as a team and they're able to advance. I just think the league is so good, it's so tough to win, you need some performances from your team and you can see Carolina the way they're playing, they're obviously a real good team right now."
On The Power Play Taking More Shots: "I think that's certainly one solution. Again, the checking in this series has been tight and penalty kills are so good, pressuring you and you don't have a lot of time, so you have to execute. Part of it is firm puck movement, execute, know what you're going to do with the puck before you get it. Sometimes we look sharper than others but a shot mentality, crashing the net is certainly one way to soften up their coverage. I would like to see us grab a little bit more of that mentality, but we've been putting the puck to the net with opportunity and you have to get a rebound and they're doing a nice job in front of their net too. We're talking about our penalty kill being good, well so is theirs, so it makes it difficult. It's not early regular season anymore, you've got to make sure your execution is real good. When you get an opportunity you've got to put it in the back of the net. Something we're certainly looking at, we'd like to see it ramp up a little bit, but we've been doing a good job getting in the zone, getting set up, but not as dangerous as we'd like our guys to be at this point."
On Makar And Girard Being Paired: "I touched on it the other day, there was two things that came to mind. I didn't love our Game 1 and then I did like the way Cole and Johnson played together in the Calgary series with Girard out, and after watching Makar play for a little bit, both of those guys, Girard and Makar, I think we can trust them defensively. Put them together and we see how dynamic they can be and how much they can help us with their puck moving and gives us three pretty balanced pairs that we can play in all situations. Obviously we can use Barrie and Zadorov and Makar and Girard in offensive zone situations to try and help us out a little bit. Got a couple big, heavy guys on the other pair that we can start in the D zone a little bit if we want. You've got to try things every once in a while, see if they work. It seemed like a good idea at the time and so far we like what we see."
Colorado Center Nathan MacKinnon
On Winning Game 2 on the Road: "We're not that high I guess, won one game on the road. They're going to be desperate tonight, they don't want to be down 3-2 going back for Game 6 Saturday, or Sunday, or whenever we're playing, I don't even know what day it is right now. It's going to be a tough game I'm sure we're going to see their best, they're going to see our best so hopefully come out on top."
On the Top Line Back Together: "It was good. I'll play with anybody, it doesn't matter. We have a lot of good players in this room, but we're familiar with each other, it's been a couple years now we've been playing together and our other lines were really good last game too. They created tons of momentum, they were really solid defensively, it was a total team effort."
On Adjustments for Game 5: "We adjusted to their neutral zone. They kind of play a 1-4, it's really passive and they stay on the line with their forwards, if we turn pucks over we're going to get burned, so we have to fix that from Game 4."
Video: MacKinnon before the Avs face the Sharks in Game 5
Colorado Defenseman Erik Johnson
On What to Expect in Game 5: "I think they'll be tight. They're huge, meaningful games and it would be great if we could steal one here tonight and have an opportunity to be able to close at home, so we're taking them one game at a time, one day at a time. No matter how good you played last game or bad you played last game, you have to reset and start over and every game is a new game and we're just taking it a day at time. It's cliche, but that's just the mindset we're having, we're resetting quickly and focusing on the next game when it comes."
On Game 4: "I think you build good habits and you get confidence when you play well, so certainly last game was probably one of our best that we've had throughout the playoffs. Definitely makes you feel good when you can play that way, we know we're capable of playing that 1-0 game if we need to. Make no mistake about it, I think we're going to see a better Sharks team tonight. They're going to be hungry at home and they're really good at home, so we have to steal it on the road, bottom line."
On Resetting After Games: "You can't change the past, you're only going to change what you can do going forward so there's no sense thinking about the good and the bad. Just reset your mind, reset your body and get excited for Game 5."
Video: Erik Johnson after Game 5 morning skate
Colorado Defenseman Samuel Girard
On Playing in SAP Center: "They're going to come back strong. We know that every time we play here they come back strong. First 10 minutes, we know that they're going to come strong, so we have experience with that and we're going to have to play like we did last game at home, so we know we're going to have to focus on us, make sure that we do what we can do on the ice."
On Getting a Good Start: "It's important, they're a good team and we're going to have to play our game like we did last game. We know that they're good defensively and they have some of the best defensemen in the world, so it's going to be a priority for us."
Video: Samuel Girard before Game 5 in San Jose