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Morning skate report: Calvert "really excited" for Avalanche debut

AJ Haefele Avatar
September 18, 2018

Training camp in the rearview mirror, captain’s practices long finished up, it’s now time for the Colorado Avalanche to play an opponent other than themselves. Enter the Vegas Golden Knights, who come to Pepsi Center tonight for their second preseason game.

What the preseason means for the player depends entirely on the individual as it’s as moving a target as there is in the NHL. For Matt Calvert, this preseason means more than most of them. Signed in free agency to help replace what Colorado lost when they decided to move on from Blake Comeau, Calvert left the comfort of the only NHL organization he had known in Columbus for the security of a three-year deal in Denver. Tonight will be the first opportunity he has to put on the Avalanche sweater with his name on the back. How’s he feeling?

“Really excited,” Calvert said. “Since July 1 when we signed here, my family and I were really excited to get started here and start a new adventure and now we get to take care of the hockey side. I get to throw on a new jersey tonight for the first time and I couldn’t be more pumped about it.”

It turns out uprooting one’s life and moving across the country and getting settled in so kids can start school is a pretty hectic experience, especially when you only have about five weeks to figure things out.

“It’s been crazy,” Calvert said with a laugh and shake of his head. “I have two young boys and we bought a house here and you’re buying it from Canada and you’re in Canada and signing all the documents and all that fun stuff. I got all that out of the way, got moved in, got unpacked, got all the furniture so like I said before, it’s game time now! Great to have camp over with and those four or five days are always a grind but now it’s time for practicing, getting a feel for some linemates, play some preseason games and go from there.”

Once in Colorado, it didn’t take long for him to begin to get a feel for the culture around this Avalanche team. General manager Joe Sakic has been preaching youth and speed for years and with the signing of Calvert, the organization felt they got a player right in their wheelhouse. When asked about his first impressions of the team, Calvert’s response lends credence to what Sakic has been trying to build.

“Two things [have stood out] for me: speed, it’s a fast group that’s for sure, and the leaders have set the bar high,” Calvert said. “I came two weeks early to the summer skates to get to know some of the guys and probably the hardest summer skates I’ve done. It feels like I’ve been in training camp for three weeks which is a great thing because when it starts up it ramps up and it’s hard to keep up but you’re ready to go.”

Colorado’s training camp has been notable for how difficult it has become under head coach Jared Bednar. The attention to detail in drills and the demand for peak conditioning has created a much tougher preseason environment than some teams prefer.

“I’ve been through some training camps that aren’t too difficult but the last three years since [John Tortorella] came to Columbus we’ve had pretty tough training camps,” Calvert said. “It’s a big difference. When you go through a tough one, you feel you’re ready to start the season, especially when you get through the exhibition games, you feel like you’re flying. You have hard practices. There’s a high standard set and that’s one thing I’ve really noticed around here. The young guys are the leaders here and they’re leading by example on the ice and off the ice. We’ll do our best to follow.”

For a veteran like Calvert, he isn’t worried about making the team or trying to find his place in the league. Instead, the preseason serves merely as a tune-up for him as he prepares for the grind of the 82-game regular season.

“Just feeling out some linemates,” Calvert said of his preseason goals. “I’ve never played with any of these guys before except [Ian Cole] and he’s a d-man. It’s getting to know a guy’s tendencies and seeing where you fit, going out there and getting your legs under you, hope to score a few goals and get rolling to the regular season.”

News and Notes

Tonight’s lineup is a heavy mixture of veterans and youngsters, as is normal for the first couple of preseason games before cuts really begin to shape the opening night roster. Lines weren’t available at morning skate but the lineup tonight will look something like this:

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Calvert Compher O’Connor
Barron Saigeon Henry
Nantel Beaudin Dickinson
Cole Johnson
Graves Barrie
Geertsen Anderson
Varlamov (first two periods)
Martin (third period)

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