Colorado Avalanche: Observations from Final Informal Practice

LOVELAND, CO - FEBRUARY 6: Colorado Eagles player Conor Timmins undresses after practice on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LOVELAND, CO - FEBRUARY 6: Colorado Eagles player Conor Timmins undresses after practice on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche concluded their informal play with three sessions that saw all NHLers and many prospects participate. Training camp is next.

The Colorado Avalanche held their final informal practice Friday as the conclusion of Phase 2 of the NHL’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. They’ve had the weekend off, and tomorrow they’ll begin Phase 3, formal training camp. While some NHLers are opting out of the playoffs, as is their right, all Avs regulars participated in Phase 2, so the presumption is they’ll be full participants for the duration of the training camp and playoffs.

The Avalanche separated themselves out into three groups. Two of the groups were regular NHLers, while the third group consisted of prospects.

Here’s Group 1 in action:

As you can see, some of the players — namely Matt Nieto and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — already have their playoff beards in full force. You also see one of the coaching staff, masked up per the NHL’s protocol.

The Avalanche’s social team was in full-go mode, too. They were trying to hunt down a smirk from Andre Burakovsky. They never got one, but they got the players looking serious while waiting their turn for drills:

I mean, Burakovsky came pretty close to gracing them with a smirk.

Here are the players participating in some drills. I can’t help it — I totally read the tweet to the tune of Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

In Phase 2, players aren’t allowed full contact. I think it’s a little hard for them to remember that sometimes.

Another safety precaution all teams must take is that each player gets his own water bottle and towel.

I’m not sure how they keep them straight, but they all seem to know where to go. We also see the debut of goalie Adam Werner.

Some things never change — in this case, Dramatic Landy:

Our captain loves to score. It reminds me of a story an opponent coach told in major juniors. Apparently Landeskog scored on a power play. As he skated by the opponent bench, he stared each player down victoriously. Oh, Landy.

The practice ended in a shootout:

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare looks exhausted.

All in good fun:

That was the end for Group 1. Next came Group 2.

Samuel Girard and Cale Makar waiting for their group mates

Poor Cale. He probably doesn’t realize Girard is practically a pro at Cornhole, so he’s good at aiming and throwing.

They started off with a little hitch:

There’s definitely something interesting going on down the tunnel. I do believe this was the debut of goalie Pavel Francouz.

Anyway, they finally got started:

They look so happy.

They look a little more serious here as they get down to business:

Looking good.

Here’s some more video:

It looks like they have their skating legs back. That was part of the reason for the Phase 2 informal practices. Players didn’t have much access to ice during the quarantine, so they needed to get their skating legs back. It has to be effortless for them so they can focus on the other aspects of their game.

We got a little Mikko Rantanen update:

He looks especially happy to be back. He was on injured reserve when the NHL put the season on pause.

We also got a little happiness from Nikita Zadorov:

Meanwhile, we see between JT Compher and Cale Makar that social distancing is over:

Some fans surmise they’re actually plotting against Tyson Jost, who super-not casually just skates by while giving them the side-eye.

Group 2 finished, but a couple of the guys didn’t want to get off the ice.

No surprise there, especially when it comes to Jost. He’s typically the last off the ice at practice.

As I said, Group 2 primarily consisted of prospects, either up from the Eagles or their other teams. Prime prospect, defenseman Bowen Byram, made his first appearance:

We also saw our other prime prospect, fellow defeneman Conor Timmins:

The youngsters:

We probably won’t see much if any of these players. They’ll be the black aces, the players the team calls on in case of injury or illness.

The Colorado Avalanche are back in business, baby:

The Avalanche have a real chance at a Cup run this season.

Related Story. Will Byram Appear in the Playoffs?. light

So, training camp opens tomorrow and will continue until July 24, so two weeks. The team will travel to their hub city on July 26 — they’re heading to Edmonton. They may play an exhibition game between July 28 to 30. Their seeding round robin starts Sunday, August 2.

Return to Play is upon us.