The mood was upbeat and the play on the ice was crisp - not something you'd necessarily expect from a team that went winless on a three-game jaunt through western Canada. However, the past is the past and the Avalanche is looking forward to righting the ship, beginning tomorrow at Pepsi Center when they face the San Jose Sharks.
The primary focus of this morning's practice session on a brisk Monday morning was special teams. Both the power play and penalty killing units have struggled as of late, especially in the team's last three games against the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, respectively. But today, the PP and PK units looked especially sharp. TJ Galiardi provided an if-only-you-were-here-to-see-it
goal on one such man advantage. Galiardi, who's known for his speed and tenacity, received a pass in full flight and buried a wrister in the top-right corner drawing a roar from his teammates. On the flip side, the penalty killing units were focused and aggressive. Rookie Brad Malone
, who appeared in his first career NHL game on Friday in Edmonton, got some time on an aggressive-yet-disciplined penalty killing unit that, at times, went down to three men for 5-on-3 situations.
"We want to get back to where we were before the road trip," said defenseman Ryan O'Byrne
. "[Special teams] is a really big part of our success - not just our penalty kill but our power play also, so we need to get back on track here."Gabriel Landeskog
, who's been a fixture on the team's power play, pointed out the positives in today's practice. "Special teams is obviously a big part of hockey today. We've had some ups and downs with our special teams but practice today was really good. It felt like our power play was clicking and our PK was working really hard, so it was good."A couple of notes from practice
participated in the full practice - on a line with Matt Duchene
and TJ Galiardi - and is available to play in tomorrow night's game.Kevin Porter
sported a full cage and said it was a big adjustment at first, but has since gotten used to it. Semyon Varlamov
will start in net against the Sharks tomorrow night.