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Barrie (pulled muscle) stays off ice; 'Z' not ready for contact

September 14, 2018, 6:16 PM ET [1 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
News and quotes from Avalanche training camp Friday:

* Defenseman Tyson Barrie didn't take part in on-ice drills or scrimmages. Coach Jared Bednar said Barrie pulled a muscle during physical testing on Thursday when the veterans reported. He called it a lower-body injury.

Barrie wasn’t available to comment.

* Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, wore a red non-contact jersey. He said he’ll wear it for about a week and that the plan is for him to play in the final three preseason games.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Zadorov is coming off the best season of his three-year NHL career. He led the NHL with 278 hits and posted career highs for goals (seven), assists (13), points (20), games (77) and plus/minus (plus-4).

“When you play with Nate (MacKinnon’s line) pretty much every shift you got to create some offense to help them get points,” he said. “I always liked to play offensively. In soccer I play striker because I like to score goals. If I could pick, I’d probably pick myself as a forward, but I guess it’s too late already. I’m doing a good job on the D as well, so you can do both. That’s how two-way Ds in this league do it.

“I’m not sure where’s my max, I’m just going to keep working hard, try to get better every day and we’ll see what happens. (Bednar) trusts me a lot and puts me in all situations and he’s pushing me every day. It’s what I need and it’s just exciting to play for him.”

The addition of free agent Ian Cole, combined with the continued development of Zadorov and Samuel Girard, along with Barrie and Erik Johnson, should make for an effective defense corps. Patrik Nemeth, who was a plus-27 last season, and Mark Barberio, who missed 33 games with a lower-body injury, supply depth.

“I’ve heard you guys say it’s (our) best blue line in a long time, so it’s exciting," Zadorov said. "We’re really confident. We’re going to help each other, and that’s going to help our team win some hockey games.”

* It’s a no-brainer for Bednar to keep the high-scoring Gabriel Landeskog-MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen line intact. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.

But the unit could use more offensive support, and Bednar wants to give second-year forwards Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Jost a chance to play on the second line with whomever surfaces in camp as a third member.

Bednar said Kerfoot and Jost are the “frontrunners” for the role, and he wants to keep them together. Kerfoot had 19 goals in 79 games after signing as a free agent out of Harvard. Jost, the Avalanche’s first-round pick (No. 10) in the 2016 NHL draft, had 12 goals in 65 games.

Kerfoot said he plans to shoot more this season. He had a team-best 23.46 shooting percentage last year, but he only took 81 shots, fewer than 11 teammates.

“The first line proved how good they can be,” he said. “As a collective group outside of them, us forwards have to step up and provide a little more secondary scoring. It’s a challenge for the rest of the guys in the lineup. I want to earn more of a role this year, play more minutes. Hopefully I can create some chemistry with Jost.

“One thing I really want to focus on is shooting the puck a little bit more. When you become a pass-first guy too often it’s easy to defend guys like that. I want to be a little bit less one-dimensional and create a different look for the defensemen out there.”

Said Bednar: “Especially now that the players around the league know him, if you’re just a passer all the time they’ll just take away the passing lanes and give you time and you’re not going to create as much. You have to be a threat to shoot, to take pucks to the net.

“It’s a wise decision by him to work on that and to have that in his head that he’s either going to put it to the net or take it to the net. If he sees something open up he can do that as well.”

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