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Morning Skate Report: Sept. 24

With regular season around the corner, Avs making final preparations

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:50 PM / News
By Scott Ward

Counting its game today vs. Dallas, the Colorado Avalanche has 85 games left on its schedule before the 2013-14 NHL regular season comes to a close.

Not to get out in front of anything—or to delve too much into hyperbole—but tonight’s meeting with the Stars is the Avs’ biggest yet of the Patrick Roy era.

Mind you, Roy has only coached three preseason games, and the story of the Avs season will write itself out over the next seven months, but after going through the, “Nice to meet you,” handshakes and the, “This is how we’re going to do things,” discussions, the club has entered into the “dress rehearsal” phase of its preseason schedule, knowing it has only about a week until the lights come on and the games start counting.

Colorado will play Dallas two times this week (tonight and Thursday in Dallas) and then get a final tune-up Saturday against Los Angeles in Las Vegas, and the team and its players know now is the time for urgency.

It’s time to work out the kinks and prepare for Opening Night.

A lot has happened with the organization since last season ended, and the chance to push that further back into history comes next Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.

“You just have to make sure you’re more sharp, and you just have to make sure you’re doing all the little things to prepare yourself for the season,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We’re all like sponges right now. We’re all just trying to soak in the new systems and what Patty (Roy) has to show us and teach us. So, it’s been good so far, but we’ve just got to keep going for another week, and then we’ve got to wrap it up.”

Tuesday’s morning skate featured much of what Landeskog alluded to. There was a lot of teaching going from Roy, a lot of listening going on from the players, and a lot of hard work on display.

The locker room following the skate was damp with the sweat of preparation, not just perspiration.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect coming in, but it’s been great so far,” Landeskog said. “[Roy has] been teaching us a lot of things and been extremely positive with all of us, and that rubs off on everyone and makes all of us want to be positive; makes all of us want to be so much better every day.

“We’ve been having a lot of fun but we’re working extremely hard.”

CLICHE SWITCHES SIDES

Just four days ago, Marc-Andre Cliche was a member of the Los Angeles Kings when they came into Pepsi Center and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Avalanche.

Marc-Andre Cliche

Now, following a Sunday morning waiver claim from Colorado, Cliche will be wearing the burgundy and blue in tonight’s game vs. Dallas.

“I didn’t expect to get picked up on waivers by the Avalanche, but I’m really happy about it, and it’s been great so far,” Cliche said. “All the guys have been really nice, and I’ve been really well-welcomed

“I was actually at home sitting with my dad, and he didn’t believe me for like the first 20 minutes. I think it’s just a great opportunity for me, and I’m going to grasp it.”

Cliche, from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, was put on waivers by Los Angeles over the weekend, and Colorado was more than happy to add to its system a player who entered the NHL in the second round (56th overall) of the 2005 Entry Draft (New York Rangers) and had been a captain of his American Hockey League team, the Manchester Monarchs.

Roy said Cliche will join the club as its 13th forward but have a chance to progress up the depth chart.

“We wanted someone with size,” Roy said. “He’s [6-foot-1, 202 pounds], and he’s been a great leader everywhere he’s been. He works hard, and we feel that he’s a right-handed shooter who will help on faceoffs.

“It will be up to him to show what he can do, but I think he’s going to help on the [penalty kill]. He’s a very good PK guy. We’ll give him his chance, and it will be up to him to show what he can do. We’re certainly not going to be in his way to move up in the lineup.”

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE TRIP

Sunday’s game in Anaheim was technically a road trip for the Avalanche, as the team played for the first time this preseason away from Pepsi Center, but the team flight took off early Sunday afternoon and then returned to Denver immediately after the game.

So, tomorrow’s flight to Dallas and the team’s subsequent flight to Las Vegas following Thursday’s game will constitute the Avalanche’s first real road “trip” of the season.

Landeskog and PA Parenteau said they are looking forward to getting on the road.

“Especially just being with the guys, having team dinners and what not and getting that team-bonding time that you need going into the season. We’ve got a great group here, and we have a lot of fun every day, and I’m looking forward to the road trip.”

Added Parenteau: “It’s going to be fun going back on the road with the boys. I haven’t been on the road yet, so it’s nice. We’ve got a few new faces around the team, new coaching staff, so we’re still learning to know each other, and it’s a process, and it’s going to be good to finish those last two games on the road, for sure.”

TUESDAY NOTES

- Veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere will make his preseason debut tonight vs. Dallas. Roy said in his post-Morning Skate news conference that Semyon Varlamov will start Thursday in Dallas, and Giguere will start again Saturday night in Las Vegas in the Avs preseason finale.

- Rookie Nathan MacKinnon (hip), selected first overall in this summer’s NHL Draft, did not take part in the team portion of Tuesday’s morning skate and is not in the lineup for tonight’s game.

MacKinnon who last played in Colorado’s preseason opener against Anaheim is on schedule to be back in the lineup Thursday night in Dallas.

“[He] could have played today, but we just didn’t want to push it too fast—just wanted to be cautious.”

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