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Avalanche Training Camp Day 1

photo by Steve Dykes/AP

The Avalanche began their annual training camp yesterday, with veteran players joining rookie standouts for the ultimate test to determine this year's 20-man roster.  
By all accounts it was a fast, impressive affair, with all the players looking fit and sharp.  That's no surprise considering most of the veterans were seen skating and scrimmaging during the rookie camp earlier in the week, even though it wasn't required by the team.  A good sign, to say the least.

As for line combinations, during the Team Black vs. Team Gray scrimmage (Black 5, Gray 4), Coach Joel Quenneville used Smyth-Sakic-Brunette for his top line on Team Black followed by Wolski-Stastny-Hejduk as his first line on Team Gray.  It's becoming obvious already that these will probably be the two most common matchups for the Avalanche during the season.  

Even though Andrew Brunette scored the game-winner for Team Black while playing with Smyth and Sakic, the real headline-stealer was young Chris Stewart, who scored two goals for that team.  

Stewart's performance throughout the week in both rookie camp and now the team's official training camp is really making an impact on Coach Q:

"The four times he's been on the ice since he's been here, he's got eight goals, so he gets your attention."

Stewart is just 19 years old, and will likely lead the offense of the Lake Erie Monsters.  Don't be surprised if he skates in the big league at some point during the season, though.

Also of note from the first day of training camp was Peter Budaj's dominance in goal.  He played the first half of scrimmage for Team Black and never allowed a goal.  That's a good, good sign that he'll be more than ready to start the year as the team's consistent number one.  Now let's just hope Coach Q keeps him there.

Finally, one of the defensive pairings felt to some on the team as a combination of two new players:  Scott Hannan and Jordan Leopold.  Hannan was a big free agent signing during the summer and Leopold spent his first season with the Avalanche almost entirely on the disabled list.  Coach Q played them together consistently and they both looked strong.

Training camp continues today starting at 0900 MDT.  Tomorrow is the Burgundy vs. White team scrimmage, held at the Air Force Academy and Sunday is the first preseason game.  The Phoenix Coyotes will be the Avs' first opponent.