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Elliott opened eyes with his excellent camp and performances in preseason games, but the clulb has determined that he will be better served with some experience and regular playing time in the AHL. If there is a major injury to one of the Avalanche's defensemen, Elliott will be on the short list of players to recall. Colorado did something similar last season with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, as he spent the first 11 games of the regular season in the AHL.
Kyle Cumiskey (groin), Brandon Yip (arm), and Mark Olver (head) have all been placed on the Injured Reserve list to start the season. Defenseman Jan Hejda was initially expected to miss the first two weeks of the regular season with a knee injury, but his recovery has been much faster than expected.
Here is the official roster for Opening Night 2011:
As expected, second overall selection Landeskog has made the Opening Night roster and will likely slot in at left wing on O'Reilly's third line.
After their dominant victory over the Los Angeles Kings in their final preseason game, the Colorado Avalanche have reassigned four more players to the AHL Lake Erie Monsters. The current roster has now been reduced to 27 players, just four more than the 23 player regular season maximum roster.
Goalie Trevor Cann was an easy cut, as he will be the starting goalie for AHL Lake Erie this season until offseason acquisition Cedrick Desjardins recovers from shoulder surgery. Cann lasted in camp as an extra netminder during scrimmages and was never truly considered to make the roster this year due to his young age and lack of experience.
Forwards Brad Malone and Patrick Bordeleau were also sent down to Lake Erie. Both physical forwards displayed promising flashes in camp, but were unable to force their way onto an active roster that is stacked with lower line forwards. Malone in particular was given a chance to unseat Cody McLeod from the active roster, and should be a favorite to rejoin the team this year in case of injury or ineffective performance.
Defenseman Tyson Barrie was also sent down for seasoning. The young rookie showed good defensive instincts and has proven he is very close to NHL ready. With some time in the AHL, Barrie should become a very solid defenseman for Colorado.
Fellow rookie Stefan Elliott appears to have made a very strong case for the Opening Night roster with a stellar camp and preseason showing. His speed and aggressive offensive ability show a unique skillset not shared by the rest of the Avalanche's current defensive corps -- a group that is built to be larger and more physical than last year's iteration.
With 27 players currently on the roster, four more players must be reassigned before the start of the regular season. Forwards Mark Olver and Brandon Yip are injured, as well as defenseman Kyle Cumiskey and can be placed on the Injured Reserve list. They cannot be reassigned until they have been cleared for play. If Elliott remains with the club, Colorado will have to make one more cut this week before the start of the season -- likely a defenseman. Elliott is the easiest player to send down, but the club may choose to make a more surprising cut.
This entire preseason, people have been concerned about the Colorado Avalanche and their lack of scoring. Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk...all three have been held off the scorecard in four games as Colorado fell to a 1-3 record in preseason.
Most hockey analysts suggested it's still just preseason.
Semyon Varlamov, the goalie who Colorado traded two drafts picks next season, has had a very uneven preseason by most accounts.
It's still preseason.
In their last preseason game of the season, a rematch in Las Vegas against the Los Angeles Kings, all of that concern proved for naught as the Avalanche dominated the entire game with a great power play and effective defense. These very Kings had shut out Colorado earlier in the week by a 6-0 blowout, leading some of the Pepsi Center faithful to boo their concern. In Las Vegas, Colorado scored four goals in the first two periods on their way to a 4-1 victory.
The Avalanche were led by their stars, as Duchene scored two goals in the game. Paul Stastny and David Jones also scored a goal apiece in the rout. Colorado outshot the Kings by a dominant 31-14 margin, as the defense played a physical game in front of Varlamov, who stopped 13 of 14 shots faced.
For those Avalanche fans who were concerned about the lack of production from their stars, this game showed there was nothing to worry for the season.
Then again, it's still just preseason.
Then again, preseason results really don't matter when it comes to predicting regular season results. For example, defensemen Matt Hunwick and rookie Stefan Elliott both among the top three skaters in ice time -- something that would never happen during a regular season.
This was a closely fought defensive game from the start, with a scoreless first period. Blues forward David Backes broke open the scoring at the end of the second period, and he was matched early in the third by Avalanche winger Joakim Lindstrom. A power play goal by T.J. Oshie midway through the third proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
If preseason truly mattered, the average fan would be concerned about the eight total shots for Colorado through the first two periods. Then again, most of Colorado's top players didn't even dress for this game. Paul Stastny, Erik Johnson, Peter Mueller, Milan Hejduk, and T.J. Galiardi were just a few of the many scratches for this game.
Again, it's preseason. The coaches are testing out players who are on the fringes of the roster and experimenting with different defensive pairings. Colorado closes out their preseason slate of games against the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 1. Most of the Opening Night roster should dress for that game.
The Los Angeles Kings continue to control the series against the Colorado Avalanche. Last year, the Kings went 4-0 against Colorado -- including a 5-0 pummeling in late December that started Colorado's second half free fall. Tonight was no different, as Los Angeles skated to a dominating 6-0 performance in the final preseason game of the year at Pepsi Center.
This Kings team is expected to dominate, as their offseason trade for Mike Richards and offseason signing of forwards like Simon Gagne have boosted them into elite team status. They looked like it against a Colorado team that was skating many of their bottom tier forwards and defensemen for much of the game.
Kings forward Anze Kopitar was the star of the game, scoring three goals. Two of those goals were assisted by defenseman Jack Johnson on the power play. Goalie Jonathan Quick pitched an easy shutout with little pressure, facing 27 shots from Colorado but few quality chances.
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov had a rough night in net, as he allowed six goals on just 31 shots. His defensive corps played well in the first period, as both teams were playing a puck clearing game. But the Kings took over in the second when poor penalties by Ryan Wilson and T.J. Galiardi led directly to two quick Kings goals.
The game went downhill fast in that second period, as the Avalanche tried outhitting the Kings instead of outplaying them to the puck. This Kings team is loaded, deep, and without a glaring weakness, and it shows even during the preseason.
Colorado heads on the road to play the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, September 29 before closing out the preseason with a game against these very Kings in Las Vegas on October 1.
The Avalanche fall to 1-3 in the preseason.
Defenseman Cameron Gaunce (2nd round, 2008) has been reassigned after a strong camp, and will likely be one of the first players to rejoin the club in case of injury -- as he did in the second half of last season.
Defenseman Jonas Holos (6th round, 2008) will also be heading to AHL Lake Erie. The Norwegian was with the Avalanche for much of last season, but it appears the new wave of young defensemen has passed him up. His future with the club remains uncertain, and he may decide to head back to Norway.
Forward Ryan Stoa (2nd round, 2005) has once again failed to make an impression on the coaching staff. Selected 10 spots before current Colorado star Paul Stastny, Stoa is an impressive physical specimen. His lack of any NHL production has limited his playing time, and he appears to also be on his last chance with the team.
Forwards like Brad Malone, Kevin Porter, and Patrick Bordeleau remain with the club after this latest round of cuts, suggesting that their strong play is giving them plenty of consideration for the Opening Night roster. Rookie defensemen Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott will also remain with the club for now -- and the Jan Hejda injury has potentially opened up a roster spot for one of these two rookies to skip directly from the WHL into the NHL on Opening Night.
With 31 players currently on the roster, the Avalanche will have to reassign eight more players before the start of the season.
Led by a shutout performance by backup goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere and a two goal effort by forward Ryan O'Reilly, the Avalanche left no doubt who was the superior team. Colorado started the game by killing off nearly 90 seconds of a 5-3 without any significant threats, and continued to control possession for the remainder of the game. Kyle Quincey started off the scoring in the first period by blasting a shot from the point that careened off Ryan Stoa, who got credit for the goal after crashing the net.
O'Reilly added two goals in the second period, one where Colorado dominated possession. Quincey added another assist from a second point blast that O'Reilly recovered and put in the net from an extremely difficult angle. Patrick Bordeleau played a very physical game as well, dominating a fight midway through the second period against Krystofer Barch.
Colorado outshot Dallas 31-16, a sign of their complete domination with the puck.
Last season, the Colorado Avalanche locker room resembled an infirmary ward as they led the Western Conference in man-games lost. Unfortunately, that trend is already starting up again during the preseason.
Forward Brandon Yip will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken forearm he suffered while blocking a shot during the game against the St. Louis Blues. Yip wasn't guaranteed to make the roster on Opening Night, but his injury certainly clears the way for forwards like Cody McLeod (who is having an excellent camp), Chuck Kobasew, and Kevin Porter to squeeze their way onto the roster.
Top free agent signing Jan Hejda will also miss two weeks with a knee injury he suffered during the Burgundy and White exhibition game earlier this week. Though this injury isn't very severe, it will likely prevent the top defenseman from playing on Opening Night. Hejda's absence could open the door for top prospect Stefan Elliott to join the team. Elliott has displayed elite playmaking skills throughout camp and his speed and shot are NHL-ready right now. As a young player, his defensive skills need refining but he has been talked about highly throughout camp as a guy that is ready to make an impact this season -- much like Kevin Shattenkirk last year.
Regarding roster cuts, goalie Calvin Pickard, defenseman Duncan Siemens, and forward Garrett Meurs were both sent back to their respective junior league rosters in preparation for their seasons to begin.
Greg Mauldin was sent down to join the AHL Lake Erie Monsters.
The Colorado Avalanche lost their preseason home opener to the visiting St. Louis Blues by a 3-2 score. Starting Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov played the entire game, allowing two goals (one on a Blues' power play and one with severe traffic in front of the net) but otherwise looking ready for the season to start.
St. Louis didn't bring their entire squad to Denver, leaving former Avalanche members Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart behind for this scrimmage, though that didn't stop the game from becoming intense as forward Cody McLeod agitated Blues' forwards for most of the game and eventually drawing a five minute major for fighting at the end of the second period.
Colorado played their top two lines, with Peter Mueller and Milan Hejduk flanking Matt Duchene on the first line, and Noakim Lindstrom and David Jones playing next to Paul Stastny. Former Blues forward Jay McClement played with McLeod and Brandon Yip throughout the game.
While St. Louis took a 2-0 lead through the first two periods, Colorado scored two goals within five minutes at the end of the third period to make the game competitive, but an empty net goal by Blues' forward David Backes in the final minute proved to be the decisive goal.
Paul Stastny and top defensive prospect Tyson Barrie scored the goals for Colorado.
Colorado will continue their preseason schedule at home against the Dallas Stars on Sunday, September 25. They are currently 0-2 during the preseason..
If an NHL preaseason game is played in Dallas, and it isn't televised, can we really draw any conclusions?
That was the case in the preseason opener against the Dallas Stars, as a rookie-heavy lineup for the Colorado Avalanche fell by a 5-2 score. With players like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Semyon Varlamov staying in Denver for this trip, the Avalanche started their top goaltending prospect Calvin Pickard in net against Stars starting netminder Kari Lehtonen.
Overall, there are positives to take away from this game. With a new emphasis on size and physicality, the Avalanche outhit the Stars by a 36-23 margin and dominated shots on goal with a 22-12 shots advantage through the first two periods. Dallas would close that gap to a respectable 30-25 gap with their three goal barrage in the third period at the expense of young Avalanche goalie Trevor Cann.
Top defensive prospect Tyson Barrie showcased his offensive ability, scoring a goal and an assist while on the power play. Forward Brad Malone increased his visibility in making the Opening Night roster with two points as well.
Colorado will continue the preseason with their home opener against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, September 23. Varlamov will get the start in net, and will be backed by the likely Opening Night starters.
Mike Brennan and Zach Cohen have been reassigned to the Lake Erie Monsters, the Avalanche's AHL affiliate. Cohen has played parts of the last two seasons in Lake Erie and is in the final year of his entry level contract.
Four members of the 2011 Draft Class have been reassigned to their junior league teams, including Gabriel Beaupre (6th round), Dillon Donnelly (7th round).
Two members of the 2010 Draft Class have also been reassigned to their junior league teams; Troy Rutkowski (5th round), and Stephen Silas (4th round). Goalie Sami Aittokallio (4th round) enjoyed a breakout camp and will return to his team in Finland for this season.
2011's first round draftees Gabriel Landeskog and Duncan Siemens remain with the club for now, with at Landeskog a likely bet to make the Opening Night roster. Watch for another round of cuts this week after the beginning of preseason play.
After three short days, the Colorado Avalanche have already closed the door on their 2011 Training Camp. In preparation for the annual Burgundy and White exhibition game, taking place this evening at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Here is a quick look at the rosters (courtesy of the Denver Post).
Starting defensive pairing: Kyle Quincey - Ryan O'Byrne
Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov
Prospect to watch: Stefan Elliott
The Burgundy team does not have the top starters on their roster (aside from Varlamov), but they have a wealth of forward depth after the quality top line. Cody McLeod, TJ Galiardi, and Greg Mauldin have all been standouts in camp this year, and Jay McClement is a quality two-way forward.
This is the first chance for many fans to watch Stastny and European import Joakim Lindstrom play on the same line, and it should be electric. Both players have absolutely dominated camp as Lindstrom has forced his name into top six forward status after being an afterthought for much of the summer.
Keep an eye out for top defensive prospect Stefan Elliott, who has made a case to stay with the team after camp. His defensive game may be still developing, but he is an absolute offensive force with his combination of speed and aggressive play.
Starting goalie: Jean-Sebastian Giguere
Prospect to watch: Gabriel Landeskog
Aside from Giguere in net, you are looking at the likely starting five for the Avalanche on Opening Night. The Duchene line has been electric in camp, with a surplus of playmaking ability. Mueller's return to the ice has gone well so far, and he's the difference maker on that line with his size and pure skill. Ryan O'Reilly will center a second line with top rookie Landeskog and some combination of Ryan Stoa and Daniel Winnik.
The defense has quality depth after that top pairing, as Tyson Barrie and Cameron Gaunce both make their cases for the Opening Night roster. Gaunce is likely NHL-ready right now, but may spend some time in AHL Lake Erie to season his game.
On first glance, the rosters are fairly balanced. Burgundy has the forward depth advantage, and White counters with the better defensive depth. Both starting goalies have had stellar camps, and the two top lines are split up as well. If camp is any indication, the fans in Colorado Springs are in for a fast and physical hockey game.
The second full day of Colorado Avalanche training camp is in the books, complete with the same format as Day One. While the Blue and Black squads taking the first scrimmage slot, sending the Gray squad to the secondary rink for drills and individual coaching.
Within moments, defenseman Erik Johnson set the tone of the day with an absolutely crushing blow on rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog -- a "welcome to the NHL" statement of the highest level. Combined with offseason acquisition Jan Hejda, the newly revamped Colorado blue line had another spectacular day, giving goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere a very easy day's work.
His counterpart on the blue squad, Calvin Pickard, was not so lucky. The young goalie faced an offensive assault all day, led by the dynamic line of Paul Stastny, Joakim Lindstrom, and David Jones. Lindstrom in particular has been excellent in camp, using his quickness and great hands to create opportunities for Jones down low. He has built obvious chemistry with Stastny, and represents a serious upgrade over the forwards that Stastny was forced to play with for half of last season after injuries decimated the Avalanche's roster. Right now, Lindstrom is playing like a top six forward and an impact player.
In the second scrimmage, the physical barrage against Landeskog continued, as Kyle Quincey and fellow rookie Duncan Siemens both landed major hits on the young rookie. But Landeskog would strike back, as he used his ability to blow past his defenseman on a one-on-one and beat goalie Semyon Varlamov...only to hear his shot deflect off the goalpost. Varlamov was beat early by a great top shelf shot from forward Ryan O'Reilly early in the scrimmage, but was solid for the remainder.
As impressive as the Stastny line was for the Black squad, the line centered by Matt Duchene was even better. Flanked by Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller, these three forwards were on the same page all morning. Passes were crisp, and all three players use their excellent puck-handling skills to embarrass the defensive schemes in front of them. Mueller displayed that game-changing talent that made him a first round selection, using his size and stick ability to fire off multiple shots and passes. These three forwards could have played keep-away with the puck for five minutes if they wanted. That's your likely top line on Opening Night, and they looked in mid-season form.
Siemens had his best play of camp midway through the scrimmage, as he avoided several hits and weaved his way through the defense before making a crisp, composed centering pass in the neutral zone. His play has been inconsistent throughout camp, but he certainly showed flashes of what the Avalanche front office likes in him. He still needs to add some weight to his slender frame, but he could be a difference maker in two years.
TJ Galiardi continued his very impressive camp with a second straight day of impact play on the ice. Late in the scrimmage, he poke checked the forward, hustled down the boards for the puck, and carried it straight to the net before being taken down from behind and drawing a penalty. He is looking more and more like a top 6 forward on a team that already has the top two lines filled, but his talent and hustle would play well on a third scoring line, along with rookie Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly.
It's only been two days of scrimmages, but there are some great trends showing at camp this season. Unlike the past two years, there won't be players making the Opening Night roster simply because there are available spots. The team is much deeper at forward and on the blue line, and there are three or four players competing for each of the approximately five available spots on the roster. Players like Mark Olver, Ryan Wilson, and Cody McLeod are currently on the outside looking in because of the increase in talent. Whereas previous camps had a focus on training and getting into game shape, these camps have been all about getting the best possible team together. Training camp has been all about the competition for the job, with a lack of emphasis on the training. As a fan, I can't really complain about the results.
The Colorado Avalanche opened their 2011 training camp to the public, and I was lucky enough to attend the opening scrimmages.
Most of the active training camp roster was present, with G Cedrick Desjardins (shoulder injury) and C Joey Hishon (concussion symptoms) the noticeable absentees. TJ Galiardi and Brandon Yip entered the arena first to applause, led closely by the remainder of the gray and black teams.
In order for every player in camp to receive the proper amount of instruction and scrimmage time, they were separated into three teams; gray, blue, and black. While the first two teams entered the facility and began warmups, the blue team worked on exercises and drills in the secondary rink. Every hour, the teams would rotate until each squad had two scrimmage sessions and one drill session during the three hour morning practice.
I'll focus more on individual players during Day Two, but here are a few players that really stood out during this first day of scrimmages.
TJ Galiardi -- The breakout candidate from the 2009 playoffs versus the San Jose Sharks had a disappointing sophomore season, suffering through multiple injuries and inconsistent play. He was the best player on the ice during scrimmages, dominating with his physical and aggressive play on both ends of the ice. A real game changer, and someone who showed up ready to make a statement to the coaches.
Cody McLeod -- This power forward faces an uncertain season, as his role as enforcer and power forward has become crowded over the offseason with Gabriel Landeskog and Patrick Bordeleau as potential candidates for the Opening Night roster. McLeod was dynamic in scrimmages, scoring the first goal and playing with a chip on his shoulders. He'll need a very strong camp to make the team, and his first day started out with a bang.
Gabriel Landeskog -- The rookie selection showed very strong defensive presence, playing a smart brand of hockey that displayed the smart IQ that we've heard about since before the 2011 Draft. He would become lost occasionally on the offensive end -- carrying the puck along the boards instead of attacking the crease -- but overall, a very strong debut. He's already showing his advanced development, and is well on his way towards making the Opening Night roster.
Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda -- The projected top defensive pairing this season was something to behold, as they were able to physically dominate the ice during their shifts with minimal effort. If you are looking for the biggest improvement over the 2010-2011 Avalanche squad, start with this pair at the blue line.
Shane O'Brien -- This free agent acquisition (formerly of the Nashville Predators) was signed as a back end defenseman with great size, and he used it masterfully during scrimmages. O'Brien was big and physical with the smaller forwards and was the single most impressive player on the defensive end. If he's the fifth or sixth best defenseman on Opening Night, the blue line will be in great shape this season.
Stefan Elliott -- One of the dark horse candidates to make the team, Elliott displayed an incredible offensive skillset. He has excellent speed and vision combined with an incredible shot on the power play. Several times, Elliott carried the puck up the boards and into the zone, using his acceleration to catch the defensemen off guard before blasting a powerful shot on net. The WHL Defenseman of the Year is one of the main reasons Colorado was willing to include Kevin Shattenkirk in the deal for Erik Johnson last spring, and why John-Michael Liles was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason. He will likely start in the AHL at the beginning of the season, but don't be surprised to see Elliott called up during the first half of the year. He's near-ready, and he's going to be extremely good.
Semyon Varlamov -- The centerpiece trade of the offseason, and the young goalie displayed the size and ability that convinced Colorado to pay a heavy price to obtain him from the Washington Capitals. He's enormous (check out his stretches at the end of the first warmup video), he's fast, and he's extremely athletic. Varlamov was calm during traffic, and displayed excellent rebound control at the net during his scrimmage session.
Calvin Pickard -- The Goalie of the Future, Pickard was impressive in his scrimmage. With a very young defense in front of him, Pickard faced more than his fair share of quality shots, but showed an innate gift of seeing through traffic and making the difficult save. He's still very young, and heading back to the WHL this season due to age restrictions, but it's obvious why the Avalanche front office is very high on his ability.
Avalanche Training Camp Day One -- Warmup Drills (via muzia02)
Avalanche Training Camp Day One -- Warmup Drills Part Two (via muzia02)
Avalanche Training Camp Day One -- Scrimmage (via muzia02)
Stay tuned to SB Nation Denver for plenty more coverage of Avalanche training camp, including more video and notes of Day Two.
The 2011 Colorado Avalanche training camp roster and schedule were announced on Monday. The puck is almost ready to drop.
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