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Injuries or not, the Avalanche know they let an opportunity slip away last season when they were knocked out in game seven of the second round by Dallas.
Through the opening days of camp, the message from the players has been clear: anything less than a Stanley Cup championship isn’t good enough.
“I don’t think we need to hide it, our goal is to win the Cup this year,” said star forward Mikko Rantanen. “Anything less than that I don’t think we can be happy.”
He wasn’t alone in that thought.
“It is quite clear our goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” veteran defender Ian Cole said on Tuesday. “Anything short of that is a disappointment. To do that, you need to have a deep team. It’s a season we’re excited about and ready to get going.”
Coming into last season, expectations were a little bit higher after making some noise in the postseason. This year, expectations are through the roof, not just internally, but from the outside as well. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Avs as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season, and many pundits see them as not only the team to beat this season, but for many years to come.
That’s what the Avs want.
“I think it’s great,” coach Bednar said when asked about expectations being high. “I think we’ve earned that as a team. I don’t think it’s something that we should shy away from. We want the pressure. We want to be considered one of the favorites. It still becomes about the process for our team and what we need to do to improve.”
With the Avs having entered the season with an attitude similar to that of the 90’s and early 2000’s Avalanche teams, it would appear the team is eager to get the process started.
“We’ve had a lot of time not playing,” Cole said. “It’s also pretty exciting to get going and get moving forward and start working towards our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
NEWS AND NOTES FROM CAMP
- The same players who missed camp on Monday, deemed “unfit to play” by coach Bednar, did not skate on Tuesday or Wednesday either. That would be Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Brandon Saad, Philipp Grubauer, and Keaton Middleton. Bednar did state that as of now, he’s not concerned with any of them being unavailable on opening night.
- Assuming they are not in the Avalanche lineup, Bednar did indicate that he would lean towards having younger players such as Martin Kaut, Shane Bowers, and Conor Timmins playing in the AHL rather than practicing on the taxi squad for an extended period of time. “I don’t mind them being on the taxi squad and practicing with us for a certain length of time. I don’t think you want young players especially sitting around and practicing and not getting the opportunity to play games. The best thing about this game is the competition. Eventually, in order to stay sharp and be ready to help us win, you’re going to have to play games.”
- Following up on Bowers, Bednar singled him out after today’s scrimmage. “I liked Bowers today. He stood out to me today as a player making a positive impact. There weren’t too many guys out there that I didn’t like but for a young guy coming in trying to make a push to make our hockey team, I thought he was good today.”