Avalanche Notebook: Kadri and Murray are skating, Landeskog is not, and Makar speaks

Avalanche Notebook: Kadri and Murray are skating, Landeskog is not, and Makar speaks

Beginning with Wednesday night’s home game against the Kings, the Avalanche will play 10 games in 17 days to close out the 2021-22 regular season.

They won’t have two consecutive days off between games the rest of the schedule, and the stretch includes two sets of games on back-to-back nights.

In other words, especially given coach Jared Bednar’s preference to not force practices and to trust the players to set their own off-day regimen, whether that means home or hotel workouts or complete rest, the Avalanche’s Monday practice at Family Sports Center likely was a rarities.

They won’t practice Tuesday before the Ball Arena meetings with the Kings and Devils on back-to-back nights begin that busy stretch run.

Trust me: The evolution of attitude, whether it’s just Bednar or a league-wide phenomenon, is striking compared to the NHL’s conventional thinking in the days of… well, not that long ago.

Practices were called in part because it were viewed as the means of assuring the players’ only exercise of the day wasn’t lifting the beer stein or cheeseburger, and the game-morning skate’s roots were in serving as a wake-up call and assessing who had a good time the night before – and who might still be feeling it. Now players have home gyms and scout out the hotel workout rooms.

I’m not saying they’re angels, but Bobby Hull, they aren’t.

“Our guys work so hard at making sure they’re in tip-top shape and ready to go for the games, it doesn’t really change on practice days and the days that they’re away from the rink,” Bednar said Monday . “Half of ’em are working out. I mean, we’ll get in on the road and the coaching staff will head down to the gym to get a workout in because we haven’t been doing anything but sitting at our computers. We’ll go down and there will be six, seven guys just doing maintenance or making sure that they’re loose and kind of getting ready for the next day, even if they’re on a travel day.

“I trust these guys, the way they eat, the way they train, the way they take care of themselves. That’s as good as I’ve seen. I’m not really worried about that. I’m more worried about the energy level. ”

MAKAR ON…: The Avalanche seem to have a secure lead in the “race” for the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy. There’s room for tongue-in-cheek debate over whether that is something to avoid – along the lines or avoiding walking under a ladder.

But Cale Makar Monday voiced the most sensible attitude about what winning it would mean. That’s illustrated by the Avs’ last Stanley Cup win, when they had home ice for Game 7 of the Finals against the Devils. OK, Makar was 2 years old at the time, but you get the drift.

“We got it last year, so it would be cool to get it again,” Makar said. “But at the end of the day, the only way that matters is when we get to the finals. If we have that extra home-ice advantage. That’s kind of the way I look at it. If you want to secure that, that’s fine, but there’s so much work to be done before that. If it happens, it happens. Obviously, you want it. ”

Although Makar generally has been in a tandem with Devon Toews, and they’re recognized as among the league’s elite pairings, Makar has played some with recently-returned Bo Byram of late as Bednar takes a look at various combinations as the defense gets closer to full strength.

“I think Taze and I just read off each other really well,” Makar said. “Whether it’s me being able to jump into the play or him, I feel like we always have a guy back for the most part. Whether it’s working the blue line and the O zone or even behind our net, it’s finding little areas where we can make plays and get it to the forwards. He’s obviously a great skater and a great player and it’s been fun. Obviously, we’re fortunate on the back end, we can all play with each other and that’s why we’ve been rolling some pairings lately. “

And with Byram?

“I really like it,” Makar said. “Bo’s pretty similar to the style Tazer and I play, offensive-driven and just the same thing, we read off each other very well.”

INJURY REPORT: The injured Nazem Kadri and Ryan Murray skated on their own on the second rink Monday, but didn’t make the move to the main practice rink to participate in practice.

“They’ve both been skating for a little while,” Bednar said. He said Kadri is “feeling good, not 100 percent yet, so he’s going to be a little bit yet.”

He added that Gabriel Landeskog has yet to skate in the wake of minor knee surgery, but still is expected to be ready at least for the playoffs. “That’s the goal,” Bednar said…

Toews and Logan O’Connor didn’t practice. “Just maintenance,” Bednar said.

Terry Frei (terry@terryfrei.com, @tfrei) is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named a state’s sportswriter of the year seven times in peer voting – four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. His seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season.” Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” “Third Down and a War to Go,” “March 1939: Before the Madness,” and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age. ” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save By Roy,” was a long-time vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and has covered the hockey Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL at-large. His web site is www.terryfrei.com and his bio is available at www.terryfrei.com/bio.html

His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here

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