Preseason. It’s a time for fine tuning. A time for shaking off the rust of summer.  It’s a time for evaluation, learning and improvement.

All of this holds true for veterans, prospects, coaches, executives and even the occasional lowly hockey writer.

Often times, one of the keys is simply getting through the preseason healthy. After attending rookie camp and training camp without a hitch, I promptly twisted my ankle (you win this round, Red Rocks). Much like Mikko Rantanen, I was forced to the sidelines, missing the Burgundy/White game and several preseason contests.

Covering from afar, as I hobbled through the daily motions, I was then inspired by Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. He played in the World Cup of Hockey with a separated shoulder, playing well and winning the tournament. I figured, if he can play through the pain, why can’t I?

As such, filled with a newfound resolve, I decided to attend Tuesday night’s preseason tilt against the Minnesota Wild. I at least wanted to get one game under my belt before the season started, and this was the final preseason game in the Mile High City.

I had been warned about the construction at the Pepsi Center prior to attending Media Day, but hadn’t paid it any mind since. I arrived at “The Can” and headed to the media entrance, only to be greeted by roadblocks, caution tape and hard hats.

I approached a noticeably frazzled parking attendant, who instructed me that the press was entering through the east entrance. Imagine my confusion when I got to the front of the line, only to find that that was not the case. I was directed to the main entrance, only to be turned away in similar fashion whilst standing in the grand atrium.

Disheartened but determined, I limped the rest of the way around to the loading docks, where I found the evasive entrance I needed: in the most logical place for it to be.

I was in. I got through security without a hitch and headed to the press box in time for puck drop.

My spot was exactly as I remembered it. There was the small sign reading “Mile High Sports.” There was even the scuff mark on the small pane of glass. Much to my surprise, however, there was someone sitting in the ever-vacant second reserved spot for our organization.

I introduced myself.  He was an affable scout from a Central Division rival (other than Minnesota), who, for privacy’s sake I will allow to remain nameless. The American League Wildcard Game was on one of the screens, and he had taken the seat in order to watch some baseball, in addition to the hockey action.

The action was limited in a lackluster first period, so the scout and I were left with ample time to get acquainted. For the first time at the Pepsi Center, I felt like I was the one being interviewed. He asked me my thoughts on Patrick Roy’s departure (which you can find here). He inquired about my feelings about new coach Jared Bednar (which can be found here). Then, he prodded on my thoughts on who has impressed during the preseason.

This is where things got tricky.  The narcissist in me was happy to offer my “expert” opinions. At the same time, I had to remain somewhat guarded, as the team he represented was relatively top-heavy, and was likely scouting potential players to snatch off of the waiver wire, as the Avs roster continues to be pared down.

I felt compelled to at least mention my camp crush — Rene Bourque — as I knew that I was to write a story (found here) that would make it public knowledge (he’s making the team A.J., deal with it).  Other than that, I only discussed players that would not be subject to waivers.

Proud of the delicate dance I performed with the scout and my mind perhaps already in Italy (where the rest of me will head next week), I headed to ice level to watch the final few minutes of the contest.  There is something about the chill of the ice, the sound of warriors crashing into the boards, that you just won’t find in the comfort of the press box.

Something was missing, however: my credential.

My colleagues and I discussed my error in the elevator. However, I made it through the inner catacombs of The Can, reaching ice level. My credentials weren’t questioned on the journey. When I reached ice level, however, a congenial ginger noticed my error, proceeding to give me a justifiable amount of grief, but allowing me to remain.

Having been amongst the media enough, I thought my error might go unnoticed, as I entered the locker room. Alas, such was not meant to be.

Whilst waiting in the postgame scrum to be allowed into the inner sanctum, I was called on my error. Then, I was off in a flash, sprinting to the elevator, then to the press box, in order to retrieve the key to my access.

Not to be deterred from the golden quotes I was sure to get, I quickly retrieved my pass, using my herculean strength to free it from the briefcase zipper it became entangled in. Then, reminiscent of the Black Panther chasing the Winter Soldier in Civil War, I returned to the locker room at breakneck speed.

What I walked into was a ghost town. The press scrum had dwindled down to nothing. All that remained in the room was notoriously slow dresser Jarome Iginla, who has more than earned the extra time over the course of his storied career.

I then headed to the room where the head coach conducts his postgame press conferences, my tape recorder empty, my ego bruised and my ankle inflamed. Tonight was simply not my night.

Then again, that’s what preseason is for isn’t it? Getting the rust, the mistakes, out of your system?

Me, I was definitely in preseason form.