Colorado Avalanche: Last Practice until Christmas

CENTENNIAL, CO - NOVEMBER 27 - Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon practices with the team at the Family Sports Center on November 27, 2017 in Centennial, Colorado. Head coach Jared Bednar, is at right with whistle. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
CENTENNIAL, CO - NOVEMBER 27 - Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon practices with the team at the Family Sports Center on November 27, 2017 in Centennial, Colorado. Head coach Jared Bednar, is at right with whistle. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche held their last practice (at least at home) until the Christmas break. I focused on three players in particular.

The Colorado Avalanche held their last practice before the Christmas break, which starts for them after the December 23 game against the Arizona Coyotes. After the practice, the team left for California for tomorrow’s game against the LA Kings.

I went to practice wanting to watch Colin Wilson a little bit. Colorado traded a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 to bring the forward here from the Nashville Predators. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued him somewhat, and he missed nine games.

What’s more, Wilson has only seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) on the season so far. So, I wanted to see how he was doing.

Wilson is now part of the J.T. Compher line, which just took proper shape in the last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sven Andrighetto, who’s been skating with Wilson for a few games now, is the third member of that line.

Here’s Wilson, in burgundy in the front, skating during a drill — and eventually checking Anton Lindholm:

Here’s another drill with Wilson:

Alexander Kerfoot is the player in white.

In any case, I didn’t notice or not notice anything special about Colin Wilson. He works as hard as any player in practice. However, when I attended training camp, he was the last player off the ice. He exited with the first group today.

With Tyson Jost on the mind after this morning’s post, I spent a little time watching him in practice. I walked out of the facility thinking to myself, “He’s Matt Duchene all over again.” He’s just so dynamic on the ice.  At one point he got a beautiful top-shelf goal during one of the half-ice drills. His entire bench erupted in cheers and stick taps.

I didn’t catch that, but I did get a little video of his being a bulldog on the forecheck again:

His getting up in other players’ faces with that stance — that’s the first thing I noticed about him in his first NHL game.

Look at how tight he skates:

I don’t think Tyson Jost gets enough credit for his skating acumen.

Of course, speaking of skating acumen, I couldn’t resist getting a little video of Erik Johnson (in black) eating up the ice with his long stride:

That space looks too tiny to contain him. What’s funny is that I’ve noticed when he’s going full speed coast-to-coast, that’s about how short the ice looks.

At the end of the practice, several of the players stayed to work on specialty drills. I noticed that the captain, Gabriel Landeskog, was helping out Jost and Compher with a little faceoff practice:

Compher is good, having a dead even 50% faceoff win percentage. Jost is only at 33.33%.

Right after that, Jost returned the favor for Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen:

Landeskog and Rantanen are both natural wingers, but they’ve been taking faceoffs this season. In fact, Landeskog has taken 98 faceoffs and is solid at a 43.9% win rate. Rantanen has taken 97 faceoffs and has an impressive 58% win rate.

The captain was feeling sassy in this practice. In the faceoff just prior to this, he lost his balance and went down on one knee. He came back up and chest-pushed Rantanten, who of course just laughed it off. Earlier he was rough housing Jost, but Big Brother Compher came to his rescue.

Cap knows how to turn his boys into men.

In any case, that reminded me something that the Colorado Avalanche had talked about when they acquired JT Compher in the Ryan O’Reilly trade. He is renowned for his leadership. He captained the USA U18 team, was an alternate captain his sophomore year and the captain his junior year at the University of Michigan. (After that he signed with the Avs.)

I’m really seeing the leadership coming through with Compher. He’s just 22, but I see him taking on mentorship roles, especially with Tyson Jost.

Next: What is Preventing Jost's Breakout?

Well, the Colorado Avalanche looked pretty good. I’m interested to see if Wilson gets some mojo going and if Jost has his NHL legs ready. And I look forward to Compher developing his leadership role.