Girard doesn't practice, is day-to-day as series moves to Denver
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Avalanche coach Jared Bednar didn’t have much of an update Sunday on rookie defenseman Samuel Girard, who has an upper-body injury and didn’t take part in an optional skate at the Pepsi Center.
Bednar said Girard, who didn't play Saturday in the Avalanche's 5-4 loss to Nashville at Bridgestone Arena, is day to day. They sure could use him Monday in Game 3 against the Predators, who have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.
“I don’t have an update on him yet this morning,” Bednar said. “He seems to be doing a little better today. I’ll talk to the trainers when I get back there. Day by day for him.”
Girard, 19, played 22:07 in Game 1 and took some big hits against the physical Predators.
Even if Girard plays, Duncan Siemens might remain in the lineup. He replaced Girard and logged 10:09 in ice time, 4:47 while killing penalties. He had two hits and five blocked shots while becoming the ninth Avalanche player to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut in this series.
“I thought he was good, real good on the penalty kill, physical,” Bednar said. “Analytics say that he was on the positive side of things when it comes to shots and chances against and chances for. I thought he did a really nice job.”
While the 5-feet-10, 162-pound Girard is a slick skater who gets time on power plays, the 6-3, 210-pound Siemens plays a conservative, physical game.
“Found out I was going to play (Saturday) when I got to the rink,” Siemens said Sunday. “I had an idea that I might play in the morning, but it wasn’t until we showed up for game time when I found I was playing for sure.
“It was exciting. Playoffs is the reason why we all play the game, it’s the best time of year. The nerves were there, but after the first shift I settled in and just kind of played my game and just tried to contribute the way I think I’m capable.
“Maybe not knowing (that he’d be playing) until then might have been a little bit of a benefit because you don’t have time to think, you just go play. I was pretty calm during warmups but sitting there waiting for the puck drop to come, my stomach was going a little bit. It’s an incredible atmosphere in that building. It’s always loud, it’s always exciting. Just wanted to get my first shift in here, get a bump and settle in from there.”
The Avalanche are looking forward to playing at home, where they went 28-11-2 in the regular season to match the franchise record set by the 2001 Stanley Cup championship team.
“We feel good (at home), we have lots of confidence here,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “Guys have played really well here. The building’s been a lot of fun and obviously the next two games will be awesome. We’re excited for these next two.”
Said Bednar: “When we’ve played in this building in front of big crowds we’ve been energized and on our toes and being the aggressors. We certainly need to do that. I think our guys are hungry to get back here. We’ll have some matchups advantages that we want to play with as much as we possibly can, just like they did in their building. I think that’s an advantage to us.”
Maybe, but the Predators' 25-9-7 road record was the NHL's best.
Bednar said goalie Jonathan Bernier has been “OK,” not exactly a ringing endorsement. He has a 4.07 goals-against average and .871 save percentage in the first two games.
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, a Vezina Trophy candidate, has a 3.00 goals-against average and .895 save percentage, but he’s made big saves at critical times.
“(Bernier) can be better, for sure,” Bednar said. “I think if you look at the importance of goaltending this time of the year ‘good’ is usually not good enough. I think their guy made some saves at some key times, made some big saves that kind of let them keep the lead or have the chance to fight back in both of those games.”