Bat­tered team hit­ting the road for four games

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei

Could a change of scenery help the Avalanche?

How about a Mon­day night team bond­ing out­ing to hear wait­ing-to-be­dis­cov­ered coun­try mu­sic per­form­ers in a Nashville honky-tonk on Broad­way?

Maybe that’s a reach. But now that Colorado (9-13-1) is in sole pos­ses­sion of the worst record in the NHL head­ing into a four-game road trip that opens against the Preda­tors in Nashville on Tues­day night, it might be time for des­per­ate mea­sures.

The Avalanche — which went 0-4-1 on the just­con­cluded home­s­tand — didn’t prac­tice Sun­day and will be back on the ice at the Fam­ily Sports Cen­ter on Mon­day morn­ing be­fore trav­el­ing to Nashville.

Af­ter Erik John­son suf­fered a bro­ken fibula in the 3-0 loss to Dal­las on Satur­day, and his de­fen­sive part­ner, Fe­dor Tyutin, missed the game with a lower-body in­jury, the Avalanche on Sun­day night re­called de­fense­man Cody Goloubef from the AHL’s San An­to­nio Ram­page.

The de­fense­man who oth­er­wise would have been the most likely can­di­date to be re­called, Chris Bi­gras, is out with an undis­closed in­jury and hasn’t played since late Oc­to­ber. Bi­gras, 21, played in 31 games for Colorado last sea­son.

Goloubef was ac­quired from the Colum­bus or­ga­ni­za­tion last week. He played for the AHL’s Spring­field Fal­cons when Avalanche coach Jared Bed­nar was an as­sis­tant there, along with cur­rent Avalanche as­sis­tant Nolan Pratt, and then for three games with Spring­field when Bed­nar was the head coach in 2014-15. The for­mer Wis­con­sin Badger has played in 96 NHL games, all with Colum­bus.

Af­ter the loss to Dal­las on Satur­day, Bed­nar noted that the Avalanche has some vet­er­ans who can speak up about the strug­gles, but he added: “Then it be­comes in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity to jump on board and make sure you’re do­ing ev­ery­thing you pos­si­bly can to help the team win. And that’s ev­ery shift. When you’re in some­thing like this, you need it ev­ery shift. There’s got to be a fo­cus and an ur­gency to get out of it.”

Also af­ter the game Satur­day, the Avalanche re­turned for­ward Rocco Grimaldi, re­called Fri­day and ini­tially in­stalled on a line with Matt Duch­ene, to San An­to­nio. That con­tin­ued a late­week game of mu­si­cal chairs; Sam Hen­ley and Gabriel Bourque also came up for only one game, play­ing against Colum­bus on Thurs­day, be­fore go­ing back down.

With­out a re­call of a for­ward from the Ram­page, the Avalanche would go into this trip with­out any ex­tra for­wards, and that’s un­likely un­less Gabe Lan­deskog — who briefly skated Satur­day — not only goes on the trip but is quickly ready to play. He could come off the in­jured list at any time.

Re­gard­less, the Avalanche will open the trip with a 5-5 road record.

“Right now, we’re just at a point where ev­ery guy has to look him­self in the mir­ror and see what he can do bet­ter,” said vet­eran de­fense­man and al­ter­nate cap­tain Fran­cois Beau­chemin. “No one in this locker room has played his best lately. By do­ing that, ev­ery­one has to re­group and come back to what he does best on the ice and keep things sim­ple.”

Said vet­eran winger Jarome Iginla: “We’re ob­vi­ously in a bit of a rut. Guys want to make a dif­fer­ence and we can’t string to­gether three pe­ri­ods.”

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