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Comeau keeping Avalanche relaxed during first-round series

Veteran forward source of serenity for younger teammates against Predators

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DENVER - Ask the Colorado Avalanche to describe forward Blake Comeau, and one word comes up often: calm.

Comeau isn't loud and he's not the most talkative player in the room. But when the Avalanche need to relax frazzled nerves, he's the player they look to do it.

Comeau has two goals against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round, which continues with Game 6 at Pepsi Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN, ALT, FS-TN). 

Colorado's 2-1 comeback victory on Friday cut Nashville's lead to 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

 

[RELATED: Avalanche broadcaster goes crazy over Andrighetto goal | Complete Predators vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Along with adding offense, Comeau, 32, also has provided a veteran voice.

"I don't think they come for advice as much as, maybe at this point in the season, it's me trying to calm guys' nerves if they have any," Comeau said. "Maybe bringing up the fact to just play loose, not gripping your stick too tight. 

"We don't have a ton of playoff experience, but I think guys that have been here all season long have enough games under their belt now that they know how play to be successful. And it's up to the leadership group to lead the charge, and hopefully everyone else follows."

Granted, Comeau hasn't had to come up with many calming words lately. Nine Colorado players each made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in this series, but they haven't looked intimidated. 

"I haven't really noticed nerves, to be honest," Comeau said. "We're the youngest team in the NHL (25.0 years old, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for youngest in the League, according to Natural Stat Trick), but it's not just young guys. It's young guys in big roles and they've played big roles al season for us, whether it's power play, penalty kill or some tough 5-on-5 minutes. They've been a huge reason for our success. It's been a big turn from last year and the new faces have been a huge part of why we're in the playoffs this year."

Video: NSH@COL, Gm3: Comeau buries Soderberg's great feed

Colorado was 43-30-9 this season, an improvement of 47 points over last season, and its best record since 2009-10 (also 43-30-9).  

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Comeau's presence has been "extremely valuable."

"Knowing Blake, he's a real even-keel guy but plays with a lot of emotion and passion," Bednar said. "He's not the most vocal guy but when he says something, everyone listens. He has the ability to calm our team down, let them know we're all right and he has the ability to try and ramp us up if we need that. To have a handful of guys who our younger guys look up to is important."

With 16 NHL playoff games to his credit, with three goals, Comeau doesn't have much more postseason experience than some of the Avalanche's younger players. But he has played 12 seasons in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Avalanche, and knows the highs and lows that come with any season.

"He just has that calming presence," defenseman Tyson Barrie said. "He doesn't say a whole lot but when he does, everyone seems to listen. He's played some hard minutes and he's been great for us. He leads by example and says the right things when they need to be said."

Video: COL@NSH, Gm1: Comeau beats Rinne with redirection

The Avalanche have had a confident air about them throughout this series. But if there have been nervous moments, Comeau has been there to lend an ear and a voice. 

"We have a great age balance on our team: a couple of really experienced guys but also, we have so many young kids who are learning," defenseman Nikita Zadorov said. "For sure, you're looking at the older guys like Blake. You listen to him all the time."

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