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Tough choices await Jared Bednar for his fully healthy Avalanche team

Adrian Dater Avatar
April 25, 2019

I’ll make this kind of an informal batch of content for you.

News: Sam Girard shed the non-contact jersey and will play Game 1 against the Sharks tomorrow.

Views: So that means someone either comes out of the lineup or the Avs go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Jared Bednar would not tip his hand on that after practice today. He said he’s “thought a lot about it” and he indicated that he knows what he’ll do. But he’s going to keep it cloaked in mystery until tomorrow, maybe right up til game time.

Girard told BSN Denver, “The staff did a great job, so I’m ready to go for the next game. It’s tough (not playing), not gonna lie. It’s so nice being in the playoffs. I’m very happy to be back tomorrow.”

Girard and Cale Makar both manned the points on the second power-play unit at practice, but Bednar did tip his hand a bit on who will get the starting nod on that to start the series. He said, essentially, that a guy who played all 82 games in the regular season earns “trust” from the coaching staff, so that is a clue that it’ll be Girard out there. But, Makar’s addition gives him “nice options” if things don’t go well with Girard.

Makar told BSN Denver, “For me, it doesn’t really matter. I’m along for the ride. Whatever role they want me to play, I’m going to try and play that role.”

Personally, I think Makar’s right-handed shot – a harder shot than the lefty Girard possesses – would be a nice thing to have out there against a good, veteran Sharks team. On the other hand, Girard did a nice job in that role, for the most part, this season. I think he holds on to the puck a little too long at times on the PP, while Makar makes quick, snappy decisions. But I’m not the coach.

By the way, Derick Brassard is healthy and practicing again, but it sounds like there could be some uncertainty about his playing status for Game 1. Meaning, he could be a healthy scratch. I think the chances are higher that he’ll play, but Bednar wouldn’t say for sure what his forward lines will look like. Maybe he’ll be an odd man out in an 11-7 lineup.

We’ll see.

The Sharks are a big, physical team, and one of the early themes of this round is: how do the Avs overcome the disadvantage they face in that department?

For Bednar, it starts with his defense and forwards stopping offensive-zone entries better than they have before. You do that, the Sharks’ big, puck-lugging forwards can’t set up shop in the corners and cycle you to death. So, look for an Avs team that will be aggressive on their own blue line, trying to disrupt those entries.  Any team wants to do that, of course, but particularly against the Sharks, it’s important to execute on that properly.

Otherwise, the Avs seem excited, but not overly excited, to get things going again. And, no, they’re not worried about the week-long layoff.

“I think it was good for us in this case,” captain Gabe Landeskog said. “Some guys were able to get healthier. I think the break was just right.”


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