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Stastny's New Lumber

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Astute Avalanche fans might have noticed that when the game-winning goal was scored in Thursday’s season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks, the puck came off a graphite stick instead of a wood stick.

That’s right, Avalanche assistant captain Paul Stastny has made the switch. Stastny, who in recent years was one of a handful of NHL players to still play with lumber, decided that he was comfortable enough with a new graphite stick to make the change.

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I use Sherwoods, but they’re the graphite sticks now, they’re not the wood sticks anymore,” said Stastny. “I wasn’t going to switch unless they felt the same to me and I could pass and handle the puck the same as with a wood stick.”

It wasn’t an easy transition to make. Stastny says that it took him the better part of the summer to get accustomed to the graphite, and that to some degree, he’s still adjusting.

“There’s still going to be an adjustment period, but it’s worked out,” said Stastny. “I think the blade pattern is almost exactly the same as the wood, so that’s the most important thing for me.”

Last season, Stastny experimented with different wood sticks in games and also tested out some graphites in practice (though he never used one in a game). Deep down, he knew he would make the change eventually.

“I had the feeling last year or a couple years ago that I was eventually going to switch, but I knew I needed a whole summer to adjust. It just doesn’t happen overnight,” said Stastny.

After growing up playing with wood sticks his entire life, the biggest concern for Stastny was the comfort factor.

“It took three or four months of using a one-piece – and it might take a whole year before I finally get 100 percent used to it, but I feel comfortable on the ice,” said Stastny. “As long as my confidence out there is the same with it, there’s no reason to change back.”

Extra Time Beneficial
There’s one big benefit of playing your season opener on the first official day of the NHL season.

It often means getting a few extra days to prepare for your next contest.

The Avs opened their 2010-11 schedule with a 4-3 overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, but don’t play again until a Monday night tilt in Philadelphia.

The Avalanche took Friday off before returning to Family Sports Center for this morning’s practice. Colorado will also skate early on Sunday morning before taking a flight to Pennsylvania.

“I think it’s a good thing right now, since it’s the start of the season and we have some things to sort out,” said Brandon Yip. “We gave up too many chances, and we were talking about that today. We need to get more responsible in our defensive zone. With a few days of practice, that should really help us out.”

Foote, Cumiskey Don’t Practice
The Avalanche was without two of its regular defensemen at this morning’s practice, as captain Adam Foote and fellow blueliner Kyle Cumiskey did not skate.

Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said following practice that it was simply a maintenance day for the pair.

Forward David Koci did practice today with the team while wearing a partial shield to cover up his injured jaw and actually filled in on the defensive end of the ice in the absence of Foote and Cumiskey.

The Czech Republic native has some experience on the back line. Koci actually came up as a defenseman, but was shifted to a forward slot while he was playing within the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

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