Avalanche Gameday: Rantanen Likes Heavy Workload; Consistent O’Connor

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Colorado Hockey Now

The Colorado Avalanche are relying heavily on their top players right now. Is it a little too much? I’d argue yes, especially in the middle of January, but they’re doing what they need to do to win games.

Those star players like the ice-time, but what do they do to recover after a massive workload?

“I try to ride the bike a little bit. Just do, basically, normal things,” Mikko Rantanen told me. “Obviously, yesterday just try to take it easy and recover. It’s a lot on the powerplay, too. I think eight minutes on the powerplay, which is not as (intense) with forecheck. It’s kind of, sometimes, standing around. I felt pretty good in overtime, energy wise. If they want to keep playing me 30, I’ll keep playing. I don’t mind it.”

The Avalanche are a team that takes a lot of optional practices and off-days, and they let their star players take advantage of those days. That’s not the case for every team in the NHL. Bednar relies on his big guns to carry the load, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

Consistent O’Connor

When the Avalanche have dealt with injuries this year, one guy they’ve turned to for an increased workload is Logan O’Connor.

Why is that?

Because you know what you’re going to get from him every single night.

“When you’re looking to put players into a spot in the lineup, the best gift for a coach is to know exactly what you’re going to get,” Bednar said after morning skate. “It doesn’t matter where he plays, you know exactly how he’s going to play. He doesn’t change his game when I move him with skill players. That’s another guy that’s really consistent in what he does, start to finish, year-to-year, game-to-game, week-to-week, he’s going to bring it as hard as he can every night. He’ll maybe have some off nights, but they’re few and far between.”

A few seasons into his NHL career, O’Connor knows who he is, and isn’t going to change a game.

“I’m at the point in my career where I know what gives my game success, and that shouldn’t deviate where I’m at in the lineup,” O’Connor told me. “Just stick to my identity as a player, and not get confused, whether I’m up or down the lineup.”

Revenge Against Vegas

Yes, everyone remembers what happened the last time the Avalanche took on the Vegas Golden Knights. The defending Stanley Cup champs beat down the Avalanche in Vegas by a score of 7-0.

Fans remember, and the players do as well.

“That was a tough game with the Mom’s trip there, too,” O’Connor said. “I think try and get a little revenge tonight. We’ve always had good battles with this team. Last game was certainly the exception to that. Regardless, I think it’s always a good test for us going up against them. They play fast, they play hard, so it’s on us to get off to a good start and play our style of hockey. Boston game, for us, was sort of a good template and blueprint for what we can look forward to do against the good teams in this league, and carry that over into this game.”

Other News And Lineup Notes

  • Josh Manson took part in morning skate, but will not play tonight. He’s still considered day-to-day with a lower body injury.
  • Miles Wood will also not play, as he tested positive for influenza.
  • Alexandar Georgiev will start in net for the Avalanche, while it appears likely Adin Hill will return for the Golden Knights.
  • Gabriel Landeskog was on the bench for morning skate, and was very vocal. After Andrew Cogliano scored on a 2-on-1, he started hooting and hollering, and then grabbed a stick and banged it against the boards. He brings the energy when he’s around the team.
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