Here are my updates from sitting on a cold metal bleacher for an hour this morning. Errr, here’s todays practice report.
After about 10 minutes I was able to really warm-up a spot, which made sitting on frigid metal a bit more enjoyable. Speaking of warm-ups, the Avalanche had several guys on the ice early today.
Ben Street took warm-ups, in a red non-contact jersey. Of the guys who were getting some early work in, he was the only to not stay for the full practice. Patrick Bordeleau was also out getting in a little early skating, as was Jesse Winchester.
One of the more interesting parts of the day, was Jesse Winchester experimenting with glasses. He had some hipster black-framed spectacles on, and was skating around a bit with them on. He also was getting worked on by Matt Sokolowski for a while, messing with the glasses. Not sure exactly what was going on, but I’m sure it is attached to the blurry vision issues he has been having since his concussion.
Brad Stuart: Stuart was in a grey sweater today, and was a full-participant. He looks good and ready to go to me. Stuart skated hard in all the rush drills, and was mobile in all the defensive circling and tracking drills. A couple times during the day, he skated hard back-and-forth from blue-line to red-line to really test the leg out. Highly likely he plays in Pittsburgh.
John Mitchell: Mitchell was also a full-participant, but wore a red sweater today. He doesn’t seem limited, and skated hard today, despite the fact he is out with a leg injury. He looks close as well, but the red sweater is a sign they may still take things slow with him.
Jesse Winchester: Based on practice for the last couple of weeks, you would have no idea anything is wrong with the dude. He always participates fully in every practice, in a non-contact jersey. Has to be rough, with the vision thing tripping him up at Pepsi Center. The extra lighting and strobes surely don’t do him any favors. Didn’t Roy say, it’s too bad they can’t play a few home games at Family Sports Center, so Winchester could play?! Hopefully things get straightened out for him soon.
Ben Street: Oddly enough, Street is still around. Like I said above, he skated in red today. If he is healthy before Mitchell and/or Winchester are good to go, he may hop back in the lineup. Otherwise, it’s likely he will head back to Lake Erie.
Patrick Bordeleau: Bordy was a full participant, and looks good. He took a puck to the mouth today, and it looked like he was messing with a tooth. Maybe trying to yank it out to improve his hockey face rating. From what I can tell, the tooth stayed rooted. I also am hearing rumblings that Bordeleau has been activated from IR, or may soon be, so we may see him in the next couple of games. His locker room presence will be a positive for the team I think.
The Practice Itself
Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O’Reilly were teamed up often on the rush drills. MacKinnon still seems to be fighting the puck at times, but today he flashed that straight up talent on an impossible angle wrister to beat Calvin Pickard. O’Reilly was fighting the puck a bit too today IMO.
Roy had the guys skating hard, which is no surprise since they don’t have a game until Thursday.
Part 2, Down Low Defense
This drill involved 1-on-1 battles. The defender was tasked with keeping solid positioning on an attacker, while the attacker tried to break contain and get to the front of the net.
Defenders weren’t allowed to obstruct, which added to the difficulty. I was impressed with Zach Redmond when he had the puck. He was very smooth at working things back-and-forth, and had very good puck control.
John Mitchell also is very stout, and plays the drill as a defender better than most other forwards. In fact, he looks just as good as many actual defenders.
Part 3, Zone cycling
The last part of the drill was a zone-cycle exercise. It was a three-on-three affair, just trying to keep control on the cycle, and get a puck to a cutter in front of the net at some point. I’m noticing that this drill (or something similar) is a bit of a bread-and-butter drill for the Avs.
After this, they did a bit of zone exit stuff, and then pretty much called it a day.
There wasn’t the usual “fun” shenanigans post practice, with guys like O’Reilly, Barrie, Redmond, and Holden staying late and working on their own little stuff, since the team had a visit to Children’s Colorado hospital early this afternoon.
Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, Daniel Briere, and Borna Rendulic were all given the day off today. A few of the other people at practice and I thought it would be funny to see if we could get a mumps rumor going for one of them on twitter. Alas, we decided better of it!
Reto Berra just seems checked out right now. I don’t know if he’s down in the dumps, or what, but he just doesn’t seem fully committed when he’s on the ice. Calvin Pickard shows a little fire, and is upset when he gives up a goal. Berra just seems lackadaisical when he gets beat, like “oh well, I guess they scored again.”
I feel bad. I like Berra, and he sounds like a good dude. Just a rough situation for him right now. Hopefully when he gets his next start, he can get some confidence back, but the way he is carrying himself at practice right now, isn’t giving me an abundance of confidence. I don’t want to make too big a deal of this, he might just have a really laid back personality. But, I’d like to see a little spark of something from him.
Children’s Hospital Visit
The smiles make this trip! pic.twitter.com/BAC6HPYLgk
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 15, 2014
The Avs finished up their day, with a visit to Colorado Children’s hospital. This is one of the cooler things the organization does. I’m sure it’s a rewarding experience for the players, and is awesome for the kids to get to meet some Avs and have a bit of holiday cheer. I’m sure it’s a rough go for a lot of those kids. I can’t even imagine what they are going through, but seeing them smile in pictures with Landeskog and Co. gives me warm fuzzies in my heart.