One week into Phase III Return to Play for the Colorado Avalanche has provided little drama. Lines and pairings have mostly remained intact with the experiment of swapping Andre Burakovsky and Gabe Landeskog onto the first and second lines respectively as the most noteworthy change to give Jared Bednar options in the top six heading into the playoffs.
Unfortunately Cale Makar exited Saturday’s practice prior to beginning special teams work and was not seen on the ice for Sunday’s session. Of course the only comment Bednar had was to follow NHL protocol and say Makar was “unfit to practice”. The only other absence has been Shane Bowers who took a high stick from Tyson Jost in Thursday’s scrimmage and has not returned since either.
Jared Bednar became animated in the Saturday session in hopes to prod some more intensity out of the group in hopes to hit the ground running when the team begins play in Edmonton. There were many reports about this eruption which left an impression on the attending media and it appeared the team as well.
"I wanted us to make sure we were doing that drill with the right amount of intensity and physicality," Bednar said.— Aarif Deen (@runwriteAarif) July 18, 2020
"We only have so many days of practice to accomplish the things you want to accomplish so that was my message. And they took it well."https://t.co/OVHS2CtkZa
The scrimmages have been tight affairs with the first one on Thursday ending in a 3-2 score and goals from Bowers, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, and Ian Cole. On Sunday a shootout was needed to settle a 2-2 tie and Mikko Rantanen converted the only attempt to give Burgundy the 3-2 victory. The other tallies were Vladislav Namestnikov and Matt Calvert shorthanded, Kadri on a 5 on 3 plus Kevin Connauton.
The players have all had a chance to express their thoughts on reuniting as a team and taking the ice as they work towards their first game action. Many players spoke to the depth of the team and excitement that they get an opportunity to compete for and have a good shot to win the Stanley Cup including Gabe Landeskog who updated the media on his perspective of the training camp thus far.