Avalanche Notebook: Forward Versatility Key, Malinski Joins Team

Colorado Hockey Now

Center is the most important position up front for any team, but on the Colorado Avalanche, it doesn’t matter what position you play, if you’re the first forward back, you have to be ready to play down low.

Watch any Avalanche game and you’ll see it, and it’s even more evident with the fourth line on Colorado. Center may end up at wing in the defensive zone, wing may end up at center. Anything can happen, and the team values that versatility.

In fact, they require it.

“We expect all of our guys to be able to play that position,” Bednar said after morning skate. “When you enter your defensive zone, the first guy back has to be willing and able to play down low. Otherwise, it’s slow. If you’re going to wait for your center to get back to go down there, you’re going to be playing in an outnumbered situation right away. We want to be as fast as we possibly can in all areas of the ice, especially on our side of it and in d-zone coverage.”

Fredrik Olofsson mentioned that when I talked to him back in training camp. While he’s the center on the line, he knows that the system is designed for the first guy back to take over down low.

“I think in today’s hockey, you have to be able to skate, you have to be able to defend, no matter what, right?” Olofsson said this morning. “Almost every team nowadays plays, if you get home first, you’re going to have to support down low, so helps me a ton, but credit to my linemates and other guys who are wingers and aren’t centers that fill in for us when we’re a little late to get back.”

Malinski Joins The Team

There was some concern that Cale Makar might not be good to go today. He left practice on Wednesday early, and the team called up Sam Malinski to meet them in Arizona.

Makar was on the ice this morning, taking his usual spot on the top powerplay unit, and looked good to go. Malinski was also here, but it sounds like he won’t be playing, although Bednar’s wording did leave a little bit of wiggle room.

“There’s always a chance, but the plan is no,” Bednar said of Malinski playing on Thursday. “We’re on a road trip for three games. You notice when we go on the road, we want to make sure we have someone at the ready, especially with the back-to-back coming up…certainly feel comfortable putting him in, but I think we’ll try to use the same lineup as we did the other night on the back-end.”

Other News And Notes

  • Alexandar Georgiev will start in net. With the back-to-back this weekend, look for Ivan Prosvetov to start one of them.
  • Fredrik Olofsson has become a key part of the penalty kill for the Avalanche, and he takes a lot of pride in that.
    • “Kind of find a role there and embrace it, and then try to get better at it every day,” he told me. “I mean, we’re lucky to get to be kill in practice against some of the best players in the world, so that helps, just getting used to creative players and things like that. So we take a lot of pride in that, and we’re going to keep staying with it.”
  • This is an interesting building here in Mullett Arena, but it doesn’t sound like any Avalanche players would have interest in playing in a building like this full-time. It fits about 4,300 people, which is less than Magness Arena in Denver. Jared Bednar called it a “good environment.” Covering a game here will be…unique. We’re basically going to be covering the game from the first level walkway, as there’s no standard press box. Will have to keep my head on a swivel.
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