The Colorado Avalanche seemed to be solidifying their lines at the final practice before their upcoming game against the Dallas Stars.
The Colorado Avalanche called up A.J. Greer and Gabriel Bourque to fill in for the injured Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher, both of whom are expected to be out around three weeks. Both Greer and Bourque (as well as Compher briefly in a red no-contact jersey) skated with the team today:
Greer was the more obvious of the two forwards on the ice today, and not because of any of his usual instigator business. In fact, he was skating very well.
He was on a line for most of the practice with Colin Wilson and Alexander Kerfoot. That bodes well for Greer to make the roster tomorrow against the Dallas Stars as both Wilson and Kerfoot are shoe-ins.
However, there were points when the goal seemed to be to have Greer and Bourque skating with each other — perhaps to compare them side by side:
Both forwards were some of the last cuts that the Colorado Avalanche made at the end of the preseason. However, Greer sustained a concussion in his one preseason game, and he was on injured reserve until about a week and a half ago. That’s when Colorado sent him to San Antonio. (He has two assists in two games with the Rampage.)
Greer spoke about that injury experience during a post-practice presser, remarking that it was “frustrating” since he’d worked all summer long to be in condition for camp and got derailed that way. He added about his time in San Antonio:
"“My time in the AHL went really well. Conditioning-wise I feel really good. So, it’s just a matter of execution and getting the butterflies out of your system and playing the right way.”"
Greer also spoke about his role with the team. He remarked that he’d be skating with players he only knew by reputation, but added:
"“You just kind of adapt and try to get the best out of your linemates and your potential. For me it’s just to be that power forward and create space for them. Let them do the fancy work, and I do the dirty work.”"
That kind of power forward style is something the Colorado Avalanche could definitely use. If he does end up on a line with Wilson and Kerfoot, that could really work out for the team.
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It looks like the top line is back to being Sven Andrighetto, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Luckily, Nail Yakupov is still with Matt Duchene, though Gabriel Landeskog joined them for practice. I think it’s a good bet Kerfoot will be centering Wilson and Greer.
Concerning the fourth line, that’s hard to say. I think Matthew Nieto, who’s skated in just three games this season (though one of them was the other Dallas game) might have a good shot. Honestly, I think it’s likely Bourque will be the odd man out.
For defensemen, Patrik Nemeth skated briefly with the team, but he’s definitely a no-go for tomorrow’s game. Erik Johnson skated with Nikita Zadorov, and Tyson Barrie was with Anton Lindholm. The third pairing is likely to be Mark Barberio with Chris Bigras.