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Captain's practice gives early glimpse at training camp

The absence of coaches didn't stop the Avs from training hard.

Doug Pensinger

After the rookies finished their spin on the ice, the Avalanche vets took over and gave us a look into some of the stories we can expect this weekend. Here are a few of them.

Back in Black

John Mitchell, Alex Tanguay and Tyson Barrie were all back to form. While we didn't get to see Mitchell much as he was on the other side of the rink, we did get a solid look at Tangs and T-Bear. Both guys were at 100%. No gimps, no pulls, no taking it easy. Tanguay didn't look old or slow. Quite the contrary, he was finding the sweet spots and showing his creativity. Very excited about bringing him back to roster. It's going to provide a new spark to the top six. Barrie was also looking strong and as offensively gifted as ever. He didn't shy from the corners, either, but don't forget this was only a cap'n's practice. No real rough stuff happening.

Slap Fight

Ryan O'Reilly guy makes it so easy to forget the contract woes. He was doing his thing, dominating in a three-on-three game of shinny. Even without the beard, you would have noticed him every time he was on the ice. That defensive presence and ability to transition to offense after winning a battle or stripping a guy of the puck never quits. Matt Duchene wouldn't stop smiling. He had PA Disease, it seems. He was clearly having so much fun. He and O'Reilly often paired up on the same line during the shinny, and their chemistry hasn't lost an edge. When they clicked on a play and made good things happened, they laughed together. When they didn't and screwed things up, they laughed all the same. The ended the day with an O'Reilly-directed bag skate, so it's clear, they still hate each other.

Nate the Great

Okay, so no one was exaggerating about how big Nathan MacKinnon's gotten. It's impressive, especially considering it hasn't negatively impacted his game at all. He's still quick. He still has the hands. He still looks like a superstar. This is going to be one fun freaking year.

Hishon the Magician

I've said it all along and I'll say it again: Joey Hishon has some slick hands on him, and his vision is elite. He looked strong and in the zone, making some no look passes that were things of beauty. His ability to predict the trajectory of the puck and interrupt a play was on full display. He had some moves, as well, and ended up with the snipe of the day. He's the real deal, and if he continues to show this weekend the way he did today, a roster spot for opening night is not a stretch. He is in the running, folks.