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Avalanche soaking in playoff experience

Large portion of roster getting first taste of NHL postseason against Predators

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DENVER -- When Colorado Avalanche forward Tyson Jost stepped on the Bridgestone Arena ice against the Nashville Predators for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round on Thursday, the emotions followed.

It was Jost's debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it was in a raucous environment. Was it nerve-wracking? Eye-opening? A little panic-inducing?

"Awesome. Unbelievable," Jost said with a smile. "Those first two games in Nashville were pretty spectacular. Just the energy and the building, the hype leading up to it. A dream come true, I guess you could say."

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Jost is one of eight Avalanche players to make his playoff debut in this best-of-7 series. Forwards Sven Andrighetto, Alexander Kerfoot, J.T. Compher, and defensemen Nikita Zadorov, David Warsofsky, Samuel Girard (Game 1) and Duncan Siemens (Game 2) are also part of that group.

The playoffs can be a heady time and can test young players, and the Avalanche are down 2-0 in the series heading into Game 3 at Pepsi Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN, ALT, FS-TN). But coach Jared Bednar likes how the Avalanche have handled the pressure.

"They've been good," he said. "It didn't look to me that we were scared in the moment at all. We were there to compete and play hard. We made, I don't know if you'd call them young mistakes, but some mistakes there we can prevent. We'll certainly have to going forward. But for the most part, I like how our team's playing."

Video: COL@NSH, Gm2: Kerfoot beats Rinne on broken play

Warsofsky said he was in awe in the opening moments. "The first couple of seconds you just take it all in and say, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" he said. But he soon refocused on the game. He also reflected on any previous experience that was close to matching the atmosphere.

"Even if I hadn't played in a playoff game, I've definitely played in loud atmospheres and big games before, so you can use that experience," Warsofsky said. "It's one of those things where you just go out, play your game and whatever happens, happens. We don't have much experience to fall back on, [no] long Stanley Cup run or 30-50 playoff games. Just play your game and see how things fall."

In a way, the Avalanche can draw on their season. As Bednar said, they "were playing playoff hockey down the stretch," and needed to defeat the St. Louis Blues (5-2) in their final game to clinch the second wild card in the West. Kerfoot, who scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 2 on Saturday, said the excitement of being in the playoffs offsets a lot of nerves.

"You play a long season, 82 games, and kind of throughout the season there are ups and downs and lulls and energy levels. You come into the playoffs, everyone's rejuvenated, ready to go and playing in those atmospheres," Kerfoot said. "We didn't know what to expect, but getting to Nashville and [seeing] their whole arena is filled for warmups was pretty exciting. There are details that we need to clean up, but I think from an overall standpoint we played pretty well."

The Avalanche's first two playoff games were a new experience for many of their players. They had a few jitters and made some mistakes, but they're learning.

"This is stuff you dream about as a kid, watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs," Jost said. "It's cool just sitting on the bench and taking that all in. At the same time, you're playing hockey, doing what you've been doing all year. It's nice to be in that moment."

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