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The Colorado Avalanche hit up Family Sports Center for a brief practice this morning before departing for Columbus where they are scheduled to take on the Blue Jackets tomorrow night. The real story of the day, however, is who was not at practice as captain Gabe Landeskog was absent and replaced by former Blue Jacket Matt Calvert on the top line.
Landeskog was seen heading to get an x-ray following the team’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. Head coach Jared Bednar confirmed after practice Landeskog had a lower-body injury but the team was hopeful he would play against Columbus. Landeskog is on the trip but there is uncertainty over whether or not he will play.
As such, the team is prepared to move Calvert to the top line if the captain is unable to go. Replacing Calvert on the fourth line would be Vladislav Kamenev, who was called up yesterday from the Colorado Eagles. Kamenev made his Eagles debut over the weekend, posting one assist in two games.
One line that will remain intact regardless of Landeskog’s situation is the Tyson Jost-centered second line. While Jost has gone scoreless, Colin Wilson scored two goals in the win over the Flyers and Alexander Kerfoot has picked up three assists in the first two games of the season.
The potential breakout of Kerfoot would go a long way towards addressing the secondary scoring problem. His 43 points last year was one of the few bright spots offensively on a team that was driven almost entirely by its top line and Tyson Barrie.
As the team embraces the concept of playing fast, Kerfoot has looked like a different player in his second season.
“We want to stay within our structure,” Kerfoot explained. “We want to play fast but we want to do it the right way. We don’t want to be going up and down the ice trading odd-man rushes for and against. But we’ve got a lot of speed on our team and we can use that to our advantage within our system.”
If their line continues to click, Colorado’s offense could be something special as the top unit led by Nathan MacKinnon hasn’t even really broken through yet.
“Willy’s been playing really well,” Kerfoot said. “He’s playing hard on pucks and makes really good plays throughout the neutral zone. I think Josty and I are just doing a good job feeding off that and finding open space.”
For Kerfoot, however, the biggest difference for him has been internal.
“Just a little bit more confidence,” he said. “More confidence with the puck, more confidence to plays and I know what the coaching staff is expecting of me and I can make plays and where I’ve got to keep it simple.”
News and Notes
- Philipp Grubauer will get his first official Avalanche start tomorrow against Columbus. Look for a little something on him from Adrian.
- Patrik Nemeth practiced in a non-contact jersey today but is expected to be a full participant in morning skate tomorrow before the game. It has not yet been determined if he’s going to play on the road trip but he should be available from a health standpoint.
- Even with the Kamenev recall, the Avalanche are playing with just 22 players on the roster, one below the roster limit. The team currently has 13 forwards and seven defensemen.