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Jared Bednar making NHL coaching debut with Avalanche

Colorado ready for season opener at home vs. Stars, who seek second straight win

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

STARS (1-0-0) at AVALANCHE (0-0-0)

9 p.m. ET; FS-SW, ALT, NHL.TV

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is excited and expects to be a little nervous when he makes his NHL debut against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Bednar, 44, was hired Aug. 25 to replace Patrick Roy, who resigned two weeks earlier. Bednar played nine seasons in the minor leagues and coached in the minors for 14 seasons. He coached Lake Erie (now Cleveland) to the American Hockey League championship last season.

"It's something I've been working towards my whole coaching life," Bednar said. "It's exciting for me. I've had a chance to sit and talk with my family about it. We went out for dinner last night. But for me this is just the first step.

"To me, winning is what I want to do here. It's not just to be here and to see how it goes. I'm all in on this deal, and in order for me to be happy we're going to have to have some success."

Bednar's parents will be in attendance, along with his son, Kruz, who is enrolled in high school in a Denver suburb. Bednar's wife, Susan, and daughter, Savega, have remained at the family home in Charleston, S.C., because of school and are planning to be reunited in Colorado around Christmas.

"We're excited. I think our whole group is excited," Bednar said. "It's our first chance to make an impression on our fans and to try to establish our identity in our home building. We want to get started and see how we match up against one of the League's best.

"I feel the same way as our players. We put in a lot of hard work through training camp and now it's an opportunity for us to go out and prove ourselves in front of our fans. We have to make this a difficult place to play, and that starts with the drop of the puck."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he probably knows how Bednar feels. Ruff, who is entering his 19th season as an NHL coach and fourth with the Stars, made his coaching debut with the Buffalo Sabres in 1997-98.

"It was an exciting but a real anxious night to step behind an NHL bench," said Ruff, who is 703-517-114 with 78 ties, and led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999. "I think he's worked really hard at his job, he's been effective at other levels. I personally think he'll do a heck of a job for that team. He's brought in his own system and I think it fits their play."

Ruff believes the Stars could have a "slight advantage" Saturday because they were able to iron out some problems in their 4-2 season-opening win against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. The Avalanche haven't played since a 2-1 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings in their preseason finale last Saturday. Colorado went 6-0-0 in the preseason.

"We had four [off days] where I was worried about trying to practice for four consecutive days [before Thursday]," Ruff said. "We didn't get off to a good start in our home opener. We took a lot of penalties, gave them a lot of momentum, and we straightened it out in the second and third [periods]."

Goalie Antti Niemi is expected to make his second start for the Stars. He made 33 saves in the win against the Ducks.

Video: ANA@DAL: Niemi denies Cogliano from close range


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Patrick Eaves

Patrick Sharp -- Jason Spezza -- Jiri Hudler

Antoine Roussel -- Radek Faksa -- Adam Cracknell

Lauri Korpikoski -- Devin Shore -- Brett Ritchie

Patrik Nemeth -- John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya -- Stephen Johns

Dan Hamhuis -- Jordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Esa Lindell, Curtis McKenzie

Injured: Cody Eakin (knee), Ales Hemsky (groin), Mattias Janmark (knee), Jamie Oleksiak (lower body)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Jarome Iginla

Mikhail Grigorenko -- Carl Soderberg -- Matt Duchene

Gabriel Bourque -- Joe Colborne -- Rene Bourque

Andreas Martinsen -- Ben Smith -- Blake Comeau

Nikita Zadorov -- Erik Johnson

Francois Beauchemin -- Tyson Barrie

Fedor Tyutin -- Patrick Wiercioch

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Eric Gelinas, Cody McLeod

Injured: John Mitchell (hip)


Status report

Oleksiak has been skating and might make his season debut Tuesday against the Nashville Predators ... Colorado assigned forward Mikko Rantanen to San Antonio of the American Hockey League to play an unspecified number of games after he missed all six preseason games because of an ankle injury.


Who's hot

Cracknell and Roussel each had a goal and an assist Thursday against the Ducks ... Duchene had two goals and two assists for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

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