With the basics already in place and skating tests completed, Avalanche training camp continued on this week with a few fruitful sessions and some impressions to take away.
Day four and the last official day of camp was a break from systems and structure to focus on special teams work. Offense was the theme of the day and it was nice to see a bit more open play and skill before digging into the power play.
Personnel in each group were split into power play units with the remaining players serving as penalty killers who would rotate around. There were four power play units in total which were (left, front, right, center, point):
1: MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Compher, Barrie
2: Dries, Kaut, Kerfoot, Jost, Girard
3: Wilson, Soderberg, Kamenev, Andrighetto, Johnson
4: Beaudin, Saigeon/Shvyrev, Lewis, Henry, Zadorov
The first unit looked like one would expect. The second unit had some decent chemistry. Sam Girard is as dynamic as ever and the whole group seemed to work and moved the puck well. On the contrary, the third unit was pretty much a disaster and could not keep control of the puck. Vladislav Kamenev improved through the session and was implementing things the coaches were explaining to him. The fourth unit of mostly younger players was predictably a bit uneven but the standout was Ty Lewis on the right side who looked as poised as anyone the whole day on the power play.
Martin Kaut continued his upward trajectory with another solid day of camp. He was moving well and made several nice plays and snipes in the drills. He was placed net front on the power play and was able to create a few plays there plus is good on puck retrieval as well.
As far as the penalty kill, the group as a whole did a good job preventing chances from the middle of the ice. The coaching staff seemed to choose several penalty killers in particular to stay with the top power play unit. Those were Matt Calvert, Logan O’Connor and Matthew Boucher. Yes, the only pure invite left on the roster was tasked with defending Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie with actually pretty respectable results. He’s not of relevance to the NHL roster but again asking a kid to show something should be rewarded with a contract of some sort (and it was nice to see he stuck around at least was assigned to Colorado Eagles camp a couple days later).
Although camp officially ended prior to the first preseason game, this session was basically a continuation of such. With the roster 10 players lighter due to the previous day’s cuts, the two groups were reshuffled in order to prepare for the upcoming preseason games. Group 1 was largely those who participated in the first game against Vegas and looks likely to play the third game on Monday in Vegas.
The defense in this group consisted of seven and pairs were not obvious. It was great to see Nikita Zadorov and Patrik Nemeth in regular jerseys as well as Nicolas Meloche on ice for a full practice. The other defensemen were Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Ian Cole and Josh Anderson. Matt Calvert missed the practice and Mikko Rantanen left partly through so the forwards in this session were a bit thin.
Breakouts was the theme of the early part of the day and then battle drills to conclude the session. There wasn’t as much energy in this collection of players as there is in the second group but the focus was intensified with the roster getting closer to what it will look like on opening night.
The second group all seems primed to play in the second preseason game in Minnesota on Saturday. The practice lines have been very purposed and translated to game lines for the most part, which is why it is important to note the trios in each practice session.
Defensive pairs were more obvious in this one with Sam Girard–Anton Lindholm, Ryan Graves–Mark Alt, and Mason Geertsen–Mark Barberio together for many of the drills.
The pace and enthusiasm in this group was high as it was clear they were preparing for an upcoming game. Coach Bednar kept reminding the group that they were going to need offense as they worked through the battle drills. The first three forward groups built on the chemistry they’ve had skating together since the beginning of camp. The fourth group wasn’t as cohesive and AJ Greer stood out more when he was with Andrew Agozzino and Sheldon Dries earlier in camp.
Ty Lewis continues just a rock solid camp for himself. He always has a good day even if he doesn’t have a standout individual moment. He seems to be getting better as camp moves along and he is very comfortable in a professional setting. He is one of the hardest workers, seems to execute each drill well and puts in the extra effort with staying late after practice to work on skills and seeks out coaches to receive extra instruction.
Meanwhile on the other sheet of ice, Conor Timmins and Sergei Boikov skated and took shots for about half an hour as seen below. Both looked good doing so for what it’s worth.
— Jackie Kay (@tigervixxxen) September 20, 2018
As a bonus, Nikolai Kovalenko decided he wasn’t going to be forgotten on this camp day as he scored two goals for Lokomotiv in the KHL, the second of which (as seen below) turned out to be the game winning goal in a 4-3 game. Kovalenko is getting consistent ice time of about 10-12 minutes, which is solid for an 18 year-old in the KHL. It looks like he just might stick on the big club all year.
Kovalenko picks up his 2nd of the game, kid is rolling:https://t.co/0hLZxCFd6l
— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) September 20, 2018