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Fleischmann practices, eager to start Avs career

by Rick Sadowski /
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Tomas Fleischmann was huffing and puffing a little more than usual Wednesday following his first practice with the Colorado Avalanche.

It was a longer session than usual -- about 90 minutes -- and the 26-year-old forward was dealing with the mile-high altitude on top of jet leg after Tuesday's cross-country flight following his acquisition from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan.

"Today was a pretty hard practice, I would say," Fleischmann said. "I was kind of winded, but it's good."

After being told of the trade by Capitals general manager George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau around noon EST Tuesday, Fleischmann hopped on a plane at 5:30 p.m. and landed in Denver at 8 MST. He arrived at the Pepsi Center in time to watch the last two periods of the Avalanche's 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta, met his new teammates after the game and was taken to a hotel to get some much-needed rest.

Fleischmann will be back on a plane Thursday, accompanying the Avalanche on their charter flight to Raleigh, N.C., and make his Colorado debut Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I didn't expect it, but it's another turn in my life and now I just have to make sure I work hard here and play hard, work as hard as I can," he said of the trade. "I knew a couple guys and since I came here I pretty much know everyone now. It seems like a nice group of guys and a very fun team to play on. I'm just looking forward to the first game."

Fleischmann skated at left wing Wednesday with center Matt Duchene and right wing Greg Mauldin, but Milan Hejduk and David Jones were among a number of Avalanche forwards given the day off for "maintenance," so he could wind up on another line.

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said Tuesday he envisioned using the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder on a unit with center Paul Stastny and Hejduk.
Sacco was non-committal Wednesday.

"I'm not sure yet," he said. "We had a few guys out today, so the lines were shuffled around."

But Sacco was impressed with what he saw at practice.

"There's obviously a lot of skill there and he's very good with the puck," he said. "You can tell that passing and skating and shooting are things that he does very well. I talked to him after practice and he seemed very comfortable. He said he felt good, (that) his legs started to come halfway through the practice, so that's a good sign. We're excited to have him and he fits in nicely with the identity of our team."

Duchene also liked what he saw of his potential new linemate.

"He's got great hands and he seems to be a real smart guy," he said. "I think he'll be a big part of our hockey team. I've only seen him play a few times, but from what I've seen he's obviously very skilled."

Regardless of where he plays, Fleischmann is being counted on to produce much better offensive numbers than he did this season in Washington, where he had 4 goals and 10 points in 23 games. He posted career highs a year ago with 23 goals and 51 points in 69 games after missing the first 11 with a blood clot in his leg.

Fleischmann, who averaged 14:20 in ice time with the Capitals, has gone 11 games without a goal since scoring Nov. 3 against Toronto. He was a healthy scratch twice.

"What went wrong? It was just we had 13 forwards and we were rotating them," Fleischmann said. "Sometimes you have a good start and sometimes you have a slower start. That's how it was."

Despite his difficulties this season, Fleischmann said he enjoyed his time with the Capitals. He had 60 goals and 138 points in 283 games in five-plus seasons with Washington, along with 3 goals and 5 points in 22 playoff games.

"I am no sad guy, so I always enjoy my life," he said. "Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days. That's the way it is."

Sacco and Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman have deemed Fleischmann to be a "top-six forward" who will be given plenty of ice time, especially with forwards Chris Stewart, TJ Galiardi and Peter Mueller sidelined with injuries.

"I appreciate it and we'll see how it goes," Fleischmann said. "There's no Alexander Ovechkin on the team, so there will probably be a little more ice time, I think. It's going to be better. I don't know how the lineup is going to be. We'll see."

Fleischmann said he's eager to be teammates with Hejduk, a fellow Czech Republic native.
"I didn't expect it, but it's another turn in my life and now I just have to make sure I work hard here and play hard, work as hard as I can." -- Tomas Fleischmann

"It's exciting," he said. "He's one of the best players. It's fun to play on the same team with him."

Anderson ready: Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson practiced Wednesday and is expected to be activated from the injured reserve list in time to play Friday against Carolina or Saturday against Tampa Bay.

"He will be available for us on Friday," Sacco said.

A groin injury forced Anderson to leave after one period on Nov. 24 in Vancouver. He earlier was sidelined for 10 games with a right knee injury and has missed 13 games overall this season.

"We'll see how tomorrow goes," he said. "Maybe I'll be there for one of the two games. I just want to get in there and give (Peter Budaj) a rest."

Anderson said the groin injury occurred because he rushed to get back into the lineup after missing several weeks to recover from the knee ailment.

"Just pushing it too hard," he said. "I didn't skate for 2 1/2, three weeks, and then all of a sudden it was four or five days of pretty hard practices and I kind of wore it out. Any time you come back from an injury, you can try and push it too hard to get back as soon as you can. For me now it's making sure I'm healthy for the guys so they don't have to see me on the sideline."

Defenseman and team captain Adam Foote expressed some optimism after practice about returning. He injured his leg in a first-period collision with Vancouver's Jeff Tambellini in the same game that Anderson was hurt.

"It's getting there, close," he said. "I'm going to give it a test in the morning, get on before practice and see where it's at. We have the back-to-back coming up, so we have to make sure we're honest with the conditioning part and make sure we're ready."

Foote said he was injured when Tambellini's knee hit him in the upper thigh.

"I know he felt bad about it," Foote said. "He's not that type of guy. It was just an accident, but he got me good."
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