Practice like you play. The old cliché applies in so many different applications in life, particularly now with the Colorado Avalanche, which is struggling to find the same offensive output from the season before.
The saying is about dedication, effort and details. It is a way to develop good habits that will translate in game scenarios.
For Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, the way his club has been practicing is telling of what the future could be like.
“I like the way we’ve been practicing lately. I really believe that we’re close to winning games,” Roy said following Thursday’s practice at Family Sports Center. “Winning will bring a lot of confidence. If you win a game, it’s going to help the team, but at the same time you want to play well and you want to start doing things the right way, having good habits. I think that’s what our guys have been doing in our practices. They’ve been practicing well, and I think we’re on the right path.”
While the Avs are 1-4-2 on the young season, the last five games have been competitive and close.
“I like our effort. Effort is there. We’re in every game. Actually, we had the lead in almost every game except the first two. Last game against the Panthers, we were up 3-2 with what, 3:36 left in the period when they tied the game,” said Roy. “We’re close, but there’s nothing wrong (with) going through some adversity at this time, and I think it makes every one of us realize that there’s things we could do better on the ice, especially under pressure.
“I think it’s things we all know we could do better and the players want to be better. The players care and the players want to be different.”
Goalie - COL
GAA: 3.80 | Sv%: .910
The Avalanche will receive a boost on Friday as goaltender Semyon Varlamov
will return between the pipes for the night’s game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Varlamov was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 16 after he noticed some discomfort in his groin.
“I felt it in my groin a little bit in the the morning. At the pregrame skate, I felt uncomfortable. That’s why we decided to not play me in that game,” Varlamov said. “I can tell you I feel good right now. I’m rested. I’m ready to go. I’m healthy. That’s a very important thing for me.
“Nobody wants to be injured, especially in the beginning of the season. It’s very important to have a good start of the season.
“I’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson will be out two-to-three weeks following a shoulder injury suffered in the second period of Tuesday’s home game against the Florida Panthers.
While Wilson’s roster replacement hasn’t been completely decided, Roy is leaning toward newcomer Zach Redmond
, who would make his Avalanche debut if he dresses on Friday.
“As we speak, I think Redmond will play his first game. That could change but, at the moment that we’re talking, I think he’s going to play his first game tomorrow,” said Roy. “He’s a player that played some games last year with Winnipeg, but he also had a really good playoff in St. John’s and he got our attention. We like what we’ve seen so far with him. He’s a guy that moves the puck well, supports the rush and he’s capable of playing good defense.”
Avalanche Power Play Finding Chemistry
Colorado’s power play heading into Tuesday’s match against the Panthers was certainly an area in need of improvement for the club. The team had converted just one of the 22 chances afforded to it, a goal by captain Gabriel Landeskog.
That changed some after Landeskog and defenseman Tyson Barrie registered back-to-back, power-play tallies just 31 seconds apart in the middle period of Tuesday’s game.
“That was nice. Definitely a bit of a silver lining from that game but that’s what we talked about, getting more shots, jamming the net. My goal, I just buried my head, shot as hard as I could and (was) fortunate enough to get it through,” said Barrie. “Landy did a great job coming off the goal line. That’s both things we talked about so it was nice to execute, but power play is going to be a big key for us this year.”
The Avalanche is looking to simplify during man-advantage opportunities. Instead of focusing on the right shot or a clear shooting lane, getting the puck to the net is an emphasis.
“That’s something we talked about before the last few games. You look at the power plays we’ve had, we haven’t been getting enough shots. One game we had four power plays (and) we had like two shots or something. Not going to score if you don’t shoot, so that’s something we’re trying to do. Fire the puck, get some one-timers, get traffic in front and try to score some ugly ones.”
Despite the surge, the Avalanche fell 4-3 in overtime. For Barrie and other members of the club, battling back into the game after an early 2-0 deficit isn’t good enough.
“It’s tough though because losing is not acceptable. We’re not happy with getting one point. That’s a game we feel we should have had. As soon as losing is acceptable, you kind of get in trouble,” said Barrie. “We’re pushing in the right direction here. We want to win. This is our job, we’re all professionals and we want to win every night. We’re not going to be satisfied until we do.”