DENVER (KDVR) — Yes, the Colorado Avalanche are back. But after a lengthy pause for COVID-19 concerns they are not exactly looking the part of a championship-caliber team.
“Am I concerned? Yeah, I’m concerned, especially after what I saw today,” said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. “A lot of rust for sure, the work ethic was fine, but overall we just looked very slow. But that’s to be expected.”
If there’s ever a year to expect the unexpected, Bednar said this is it.
“The game will throw you wrinkles and you have to be ready for them. This (COVID) is another wrinkle that we have to deal with and iron out,” he told FOX31 Sports Director Nick Griffith
Remember this was supposed to be, and hopefully still will be, the Avs’ year. After all, they were Stanley Cup favorites entering the season. But instead of working to build up that championship caliber chemistry, it’s basically been the exact opposite.
“It’s tough, guys aren’t hanging out, we don’t go out to eat after practice or go to the mall or anything. We just finish practice and go home,” goalie Philipp Grubauer said.
Avs center, Nazem Kadri described the COVID-19 restrictions as ‘frustrating.’
“Oh for sure, it’s all been frustrating. As a player, you want to be out there. But it’s also necessary to keep players and everyone healthy and hopefully means we can avoid more shut-downs like the one we just experienced,” he said.
While the bulk of Avalanche players did return to the ice on Thursday, they are still far from whole as captain Gabriel Landeskog, along with Samuel Girard and Tyson Jost remain on the NHL’s COVID-19 reserve list.
There is some silver lining in the team being off since last Tuesday though. Nathan MacKinnon, Devon Toews and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare are returning from injury and could all be available in time for the team’s next game this Sunday at home against the first place Vegas Golden Knights.