When the media tried to get Jared Bednar to tip his cap, the man wouldn’t bite. But you could tell from the smile on the face of the Colorado Avalanche coach that he likes the blueline options the Avs are rolling into San Jose.
“Tough decisions,” Bednar said after practice wrapped early Thursday afternoon in preparation for Game 1 of the Avs’ best-of-seven second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Sharks. “But they’re good decisions to make this time of year, because it’s all about team and winning.”
And one of the toughest, at least in the short term: What to do with defenseman Sam Girard, who practiced Thursday without a red jersey for the first time in ages?
Girard partnered with Erik Johnson as Colorado’s top defensive pairing to open the first-round victory over Calgary. When Girard suffered a shoulder injury in Game 2, knocking him out of the rest of the series, Bednar elected to pair Ian Cole with Johnson and insert hot-shot rookie Cale Makar — who signed an entry level contract on April 14 after leading Massachusetts to a berth in the Frozen Four — into the defensive rotation.
“Whatever the D players, we’re going to roll with them,” Cole said. “Whether it’s six, whether it’s seven, regardless of who the D players are, everyone in here contributes, everyone in here plays. We don’t play our top four (for) 30 minutes and no else.”
With Girard back in the fold, Bednar can play the match-up game to his heart’s content, in any number of ways. Do you keep seven defenders active, or settle on six?