Thus far, Jared Bednar’s NHL coaching record is without a single blemish. Of all 30 NHL teams, only the Colorado Avalanche emerged unscathed after completing their preseason slate. Though the results matter not, winning surely feels a whole lot better than the alternative. Now, they turn their attention to the real deal.
“I think the guys are excited for the regular season,” said Bednar. “It was a great preseason, but that is all it was. Now it’s time for the real thing come Saturday.
The Avalanche’s final test came in the form of the Los Angeles Kings. Played in Las Vegas, it likely marked the final edition of the club’s annual Frozen Fury exhibition.
A hard-fought affair, the Avalanche needed extra time to keep their perfect record intact. Mikhail Grigorenko capped off his torrid preseason with his fourth goal. Captain Gabriel Landeskog finished them of in the bonus frame, giving the Avalanche a 2-1 win.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was a tight game,” said Grigorenko. “Everyone was competing well, and you just felt like it was a regular season game out there. It was fun to play some overtime and finish the preseason undefeated-that’s great, too.”
Now, the Avalanche brass face a number of tough decisions. Do they keep Rene and/or Gabriel Bourque, both of whom impressed on PTOs? Has defenseman Duncan Siemens done enough to stick? What about Ben Smith, who would be the only forward on the team with a Stanley Cup ring? How about Trent Vogelhuber, who is the only player with previous experience in Bednar’s system?
All these questions will be answered in the coming week. The Avalanche still needs to make four roster moves to get down to the regular season limit of 23. Some dreams will be delayed. Others may end completely. Either way, there is a lot of intrigue leading up to the 2016-2017 season for the Colorado Avalanche.