Colorado Avalanche: Two Practices Against the Existing Slump

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 20: Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen #96 handles the puck during practice before game five of round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena April 20, 2018. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 20: Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen #96 handles the puck during practice before game five of round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena April 20, 2018. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche worked on the usual drills during their two practices between the Canucks and Blue Jackets games.

The Colorado Avalanche held two practices in the two off-days between the Vancouver Canucks loss on Saturday and the remaining home stand game against the Columbus Blue Jackets game on Tuesday.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, the Avs are currently in a slump that’s now lasted the same amount of time as the solid play that got them into the playoffs to begin with.

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The first two months, Colorado was on fire. They started out 15-6-5 under the aegis of a top line that would go on to get voted into the All Star lineup as a group.

However, come December, matters went awry. The Avalanche haven’t even been playing .500 hockey in the last couple months, going 7-14-3 since the start of December. That’s two months of brutal that has already started out with a February loss and a descent out of the playoff bracket.

So, on Sunday and Monday, the team held practice each day. I didn’t get a chance to go to Sunday’s practice. However, per Ron Knabenbauer, the main focus on Sunday was even-strength playing. The practice lasted only 30 minutes on the ice.

Monday’s practice, which I did attend, lasted a little longer — closer to the 45-minute mark. In both practices, the wonky line combinations have been replaced with the status quo combos:

Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Matthew Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Matt Calver

J.T. Compher-Alexander Kerfoot-Colin Wilson

Sven Andrighetto-Sheldon Dries-Gabriel Bourque

Monday’s practice also looked like the status quo — working on game-style drills.

For defensive pairings, we have Ian Cole with Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov with Tyson Barrie, and Patrik Nemeth with Samuel Girard. I think it’s only a matter of time before Girard is also sent to the Colorado Eagles for development.

Injury Update

On Sunday, defenseman Mark Barberio was skating in a red, no-contact jersey. He missed Saturday’s game due to a “head injury.” Per Knabenbauer, he suffered the injury in the January 21 game against the Nashville Predators.

Today, Barberio was in full-contact black for practice:

That will give the Avs more flexibility on the blueline.

In more good news, Conor Timmins was a full participant in practice, though in the red no-contact jersey:

During some of the drills, he had to remain outside looking in while contact took place:

Timmins has been out all year while he recovers from concussion symptoms. The plan is to get him over the symptoms then send him to Loveland for conditioning since he’s missed so much time. I’m hoping his participation in practice is a step in the right direction.

Skills Practice

There was no skills practice. Not an official one that Shawn Allard presides over with his specialized knowledge and equipment. However, some players did stay after to work on their own skills drills:

To answer the question in the Instagram post, no, I do not think those informal drills are enough for the team to get back to basics, which they desperately need. If the team has up to 1:45 to dedicate to practice, why don’t they have Allard set up for 30 minutes?

Anyway, the informal practice did see our captain of the blueline, Erik Johnson, taking some extra time to work with Timmins:

I really like seeing that the veteran Johnson is taking time to mentor Timmins. Throughout practice and for a significant amount of time afterward, Timmins sought out Johnson for help and advice.

Tyson Jost Update

While I was at the Avalanche practice, I was looking in the background to see if the injured Tyson Jost would be watching — you see that sometimes. Well, turns out I would have had to have binoculars since he was all the way up in Loveland.

Jost took practice with the Colorado Eagles in no-contact red:

Jost was injured in the January 26 game while playing with the Eagles:

I didin’t think it looked like much, and no one even realized at the time it resulted in an injury. However, Jared Bednar ominously announced at the first practice after the All Star Break and bye-week:

"“He got hurt down in [Loveland] so he’s getting some medical attention. No timeline [for his return].”"

It later came out that Jost had an “upper-body injury” that was not a concussion, but that whole “no timeline” stood.

Maybe Bednar meant no timeline for his return to the Avalanche. Because he was looking good in Eagles practice:

I don’t see that he’s favoring any body parts. Maybe he just got a bad bruise in the game against the Ontario Reign.

Avs insider Adrian Dater offers an unhelpful and slightly ominous observation:

My hope is that Jost heals quickly and stays with the Eagles a little longer. I’d just as soon not see him victimized by Bednar’s wonky line combinations again — let him get his strength and conditioning up. He can welcome Timmins and, probably, Girard when they head up I-25 to their conditioning and banishment respectively.

Next. Sheldon Dries Solid for the Avs. dark

The Colorado Avalanche will host the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night before heading out east for a three-game roadie.