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Roy Happy with Opening Night Roster

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Maybe the biggest question facing head coach Patrick Roy and his coaching staff in the final week of the preseason was which defensemen were going to crack the Opening Night roster.

Luckily for Roy, that decision has been delayed.

With the Avalanche announcing that defenseman Ryan Wilson (knee) was retroactively placed on injured reserve, the club can keep Matt Huwnick, Nick Holden and Nate Guenin on its roster without reassigning one of them to Lake Erie. The three players were competing for the final two defensive spots going into the last two preseason games.

"We are happy with our roster," Roy said after Sunday's practice at South Suburban Family Sports Center. "We are extremely excited about the [offseason] signing of Holden and Guenin. I thought the free agents that we have signed have been very impressive."

The battle for the final two defensive spots will continue for the first two weeks of the regular season as Roy said he hopes to get Wilson back by the Oct. 12 game at Washington.

"They are going to start the year with us and then when Wilson is back we'll make a decision, but as of right now we don’t have to make a decision," Roy said of the three defenseman competing. "We are pretty happy about that. They are steady, they play well, they are consistent in their game and they've been great guys to add to our roster."

Wilson has missed all of the preseason with a minor knee injury that he suffered during the team's Burgundy/White Game on Sept. 15. He skated for the first time on Sunday with a knee brace on.

"We're not going to push a player," Roy said. "We are going to make sure that he is 100 percent when he comes back."

On the offensive side, Roy has been equally pleased with what he has seen.

Gabriel Landeskog (92) delivers a hit during last Tuesday's preseason game against Dallas. Landeskog scored the first goal to begin a 3-0 run by Colorado (Photo: Michael Martin).

"Quite frankly, I like my four lines," he said.

After missing three preseason games with a minor hip injury, Nathan MacKinnon was back in the Avs lineup for the final two contests, on Thursday at Dallas and Saturday against Los Angeles.

Roy said MacKinnon was probably a little nervous in his return on Thursday, but he thought the 18-year-old was "outstanding" in the preseason finale over the weekend.

"He was skating well, he was moving the puck well," Roy said of Colorado's 2013 first-round selection. "I thought that was a really good line with [Jamie] McGinn and [PA] Parenteau. I thought they had a lot of good chances, which is great for us."

Another forward that has caught Roy's eyes in the preseason is captain Gabriel Landeskog, and the Avs coach said he likes the example the left wing is setting for the rest of the squad.

Landeskog scored three goals in the final three preseason games, scoring once on Tuesday at home versus Dallas to lead a run of three-straight goals by the Avs and twice on Saturday in a 3-2 win against the Kings.

"I'm very impressed with him so far," Roy said of his captain. "He was one of our best players on the ice against Dallas [on Tuesday]. The goal he scored on the power play made it 4-1, and it showed that we aren't going to give up this year – that was awesome. And [Saturday] night, he scored two goals, he was rebounding, he was in front of the net."

The Avalanche will begin the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Pepsi Center against a team it has seen twice already in the preseason in the Anaheim Ducks. Colorado split both games against Anaheim, but neither squad had their full lineup on the ice in the contests.

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