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No excuses, but altitude might have done in Avs Tuesday night more than Oilers

Adrian Dater Avatar
December 13, 2018

First things first: the Avalanche aren’t about to use our mile-high altitude as an excuse for losing to the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night, in a home game after spending several days at sea level in Florida. But, did it play a factor in the loss? Erik Johnson thinks it did, and coach Jared Bednar talked a lot today about little energy the team showed at times the other night.

Let’s hear from Johnson as to why he says it’s a difficult thing playing that first home game in Denver after being in a place such as Florida for several days:

“We get acclimated to the altitude when we’re here. But when we go back east for a week to 10 days, we have to come back and re-acclimate, so the first couple days can be pretty challenging, lung-wise, to react to the altitude,” said Johnson, who, like the rest of his teammates, got back to Denver in the wee hours Sunday morning following a four-game Eastern swing.

Bednar said, after practice today, that his team lacked energy in the Oilers game, despite putting up some impressive shot totals.

Johnson said the ironic part of being back east is how much better he and teammates usually feel because of spending so much time at altitude. Some of that is borne out in the numbers, as the Avs have had some very good records on the road against Eastern teams over the years. It’s coming back to altitude, after having their lungs reset to sea-level air, that makes for that first rough home game very often.

“When we’re actually here for a week or 10 days, it’s a really big advantage,” Johnson said. “When we go somewhere after we’ve been here, it’s also a really big advantage, because we’re going from altitude down to sea level and you feel like you can skate forever. We have our strength coach and sports science guys that are researching that stuff, and it’s science. It’s good that we got a couple practices in here before going back on the road.”

The Avs will only be on the road for two nights – tonight and tomorrow in St. Louis, where they’ll play the Blues at Enterprise Center. Bednar said there “won’t be any more excuses” for a poor showing in a game like this one. The Avs have lost two in a row, and Bednar said “we’ve got to stop this thing at two games” in St. Louis.

“We need our energy level to come up a little bit,” Bednar said. “There’s areas of our game where we’re getting (beat) to pucks and not using our legs as a team, both offensively and defensively. We’re standing around, looking a little tentative to me. But I loved our intensity today at practice. It was the type of practice we needed. Hopefully, we can carry over what we did today to tomorrow.”

NOTEBOOK

  • Philipp Grubauer will start in goal at St. Louis. Semyon Varlamov will start Saturday’s game against Dallas.
  • Alexander Kerfoot (upper body) skated in a red jersey today, but won’t make the trip to St. Louis. Bednar said, while he didn’t have a timetable on his return, it’ll likely be only a short-term thing.
  • Conor Timmins continues to make seemingly good progress, finally, on his long recovery from concussion symptoms. He skated again today.

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