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Avalanche coach Jared Bednar engineers impressive turnaround

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar engineers impressive turnaround
avalanche-coach-jared-bednar-engineers-impressive-turnaround

Jared Bednar stands virtually no chance to win the midseason Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year. Gerard Gallant of the Golden Knights has that thing on lockdown.

But the Avalanche’s second-year coach quietly engineered an impressive turnaround in Colorado.

The Avalanche are in the thick of the Western Conference wild-card chase one season after posting the worst record in the league.

“We’re happy with where we’re at,” Bednar said after Colorado entered its bye week on a five-game winning streak after a 7-2 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 7., but the most important hockey is still to come

 that came to the rink every day to prove ourselves every day.”,“Our motto kind of coming into this year was we had to be a team that started earning some respect from the league

Bednar was hired less than a month before training camp in 2016 and endured a rocky first season. Colorado’s 22-56-4 record was the worst in the NHL since the 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers.

 and their 47 points in 41 games is one fewer than they posted all of last season.,The Avalanche had 22 wins entering Saturday’s game at Dallas

Colorado was three points behind Chicago for the final wild card with three games in hand entering Saturday’s games.

Forward Matt Duchene, finally was shipped out in November in a three-team deal., whose trade request in December 2016 contributed to last season’s chaos

 22-year-old center Nathan MacKinnon was tied for second in the league in scoring with 52 points entering Saturday and is gaining traction as an MVP candidate.,After a slow start

 Rob Mixer takes a look at the biggest storylines from the hockey week that was.,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-jonathan-drouin-jersey]adidas Jonathan Drouin jersey[/url],Each Monday during the NHL season

The Metropolitan Division is just silly.

There’s never been a ton of separation, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of just how insane this second half race is going to be. A couple of weeks ago, but now that the bye weeks are here,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-victor-hedman-jersey]adidas Victor Hedman jersey[/url], and the “bottom” of the division is starting to make a push., Devils and Blue Jackets — but man,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-nikita-kucherov-jersey]adidas Nikita Kucherov jersey[/url], it seemed reasonable the top three of the Metro would feature some combination of the Capitals, it’s getting air-tight at the top

Sunday's game between the Rangers and Penguins made things even more interesting. Both teams entered with 49 points, guaranteeing that one of those teams would be within two points of second and move the playoff bar up a notch.,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-james-van-riemsdyk-jersey]adidas James Van Riemsdyk jersey[/url], a mere four behind the Blue Jackets for second place

It’s just not going to be easy for anyone to create breathing room — especially when the volume of division games increases in February. You know what that means: loser points galore!

Washington is clearly in the best spot here, which has slipped back after back-to-back regulation losses to Washington and Calgary., sitting six points ahead of Columbus and 11 clear of eighth-place Carolina

The team to watch here is New Jersey. The Devils were one of the NHL’s best stories in the first half,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-auston-matthews-jersey]adidas Auston Matthews jersey[/url], which doesn’t exactly bode well for the long term., a team that appears ahead of schedule but owning some less-than-promising underlying numbers. The Devils don’t have strong puck possession numbers and get a lot of offense from their bottom six

They’ve lost six straight after winning five in a row late in December. If there’s a glimmer of hope for the Devils, which is possible: They can get themselves back in a better position while they make up ground in games played. But it’s not going to be easy considering the trends in their game., it’s that they’ve played three fewer games than Washington and four fewer than Columbus. Let’s say the Devils get their act together

We’ve talked so much about the Metro this season that the Central Division hasn’t gotten its fair share of attention. It may be even crazier.

Only 10 points separate first-place Winnipeg (59) with last-place Colorado (49),[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-daniel-sedin-jersey]adidas Daniel Sedin jersey[/url], and the Avalanche are making their move having won six in a row. Four points stand between Winnipeg and third-place St. Louis, and two teams capable of turning it on — Dallas and Chicago — lurking in the background., so nothing’s even close to being settled at the top of the Central. This division has eight quality teams

 but you can bet the Predators will do their best to close the gap. Nashville’s played well on the road this season and they already have a tremendous home-ice advantage at Bridgestone Arena; Peter Laviolette’s team can take its uptempo skating game to any rink and feel confident in its chances.,Can the Jets continue to set the pace? It certainly looks that way. They have the skill and depth to keep racking up points

 thanks in large part to the Coyotes,There’s a bit more separation in the Pacific, who sit 34 points behind the Golden Knights. I don’t think they’re making the playoffs. What’s going to be watch-worthy in the Pacific is the final spot in the top three. As of today, Ducks and Sharks are separated by only four points with Los Angeles leading the group at 53 points., the Kings

 coupled with the Flames’ run,The Kings have lost three straight and, have fallen back into third place after leading the Pacific earlier in the season and, trying to close the gap on Vegas., more recently

Arlington, yet was shown the door last summer., Va. ? Mike Richards was supposed to be the Los Angeles Kings' Derek Jeter and represent the pivotal piece to winning championships. He won two Stanley Cups

 who terminated his contract last summer. He had been sent to the minor leagues after his play and production dropped off and was arrested at the Canadian border in June for possession of a controlled substance.,Richards hit two highs and many more lows in four seasons with the Kings

The 31-year-old eventually settled a grievance with Los Angeles but was out of the NHL until the Washington Capitals signed him in January. Richards faces the Kings on Tuesday for the first time since his departure and insists there are no hard feelings toward the organization or Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi.

"He had to do things that he probably did want to do at the end of the day, either, but I didn't make it easy on him, and he had to do what he had to do (for) what he thought benefited the L.A. Kings."," Richards said. "I want to say fault on both parts, to keep me around,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-jonathan-drouin-jersey]Authentic Jonathan Drouin jersey[/url], but it's probably more so on me

 the first sign Los Angeles was title-bound.,Lombardi could have bought out Richards with no salary-cap ramifications in the summer of 2014 after the Kings' second Cup but let the two-way forward and former Philadelphia Flyers captain convince him to keep him around. The GM adored Richards and still praises him for setting the tempo in the first playoff series in 2012 against Vancouver

Acquired from Philadelphia at the 2011 draft,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-victor-hedman-jersey]Authentic Victor Hedman jersey[/url], Richards had 15 points in the 20 games during 2012 Cup run and was his usual penalty-killing, but that didn't happen and his 16 points were a career low., defensive-minded self for the first two seasons before he became a fourth-liner and was a bit part of the 2014 championship. The Kings waived him and sent him to the American Hockey League for a stint a year ago with the hope Richards would get his game together

" and in October they settled on paying him a portion of the $22 million left on the deal.,[url=http://www.lightningofficialhockey.com/adidas-nikita-kucherov-jersey]Authentic Nikita Kucherov jersey[/url],Richards' off-ice problems publicly came to light when he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance at a North Dakota-Manitoba border crossing June 17. The Kings terminated his contract June 29 "for a material breach of the requirements of his standard player contract

 both scoring twice to help the Winnipeg Jets defeat the Buffalo Sabres 7-4.,Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers were also on top form

Mathieu Perreault, Jacob Trouba,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-james-van-riemsdyk-jersey]Authentic James Van Riemsdyk jersey[/url], who have won three straight games., and Blake Wheeler all had two assists for the Jets

 with Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews both scoring a brace.,There were eight goals for the Chicago Blackhawks in their game against the Ottawa Senators

The game finished 8-2 and was the second time this season that the Senators have allowed eight goals.

The Edmonton Oilers,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-auston-matthews-jersey]Authentic Auston Matthews jersey[/url], suffered their seventh loss in eight games with a 2-1 defeat to the Nashville Predators., meanwhile

 making 37 saves in a 3-1 victory.,And goaltender Philipp Grubauer impressed for the Washington Capitals in their game against the Vancouver Canucks

Elsewhere,[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-daniel-sedin-jersey]Authentic Daniel Sedin jersey[/url], while the Florida Panthers scored three straight goals in the second period to win 7-4 against the St Louis Blues., the Calgary Flames won 3-2 in overtime against the Minnesota Wild

Arlington, yet was shown the door last summer., Va. ? Mike Richards was supposed to be the Los Angeles Kings' Derek Jeter and represent the pivotal piece to winning championships. He won two Stanley Cups

 who terminated his contract last summer. He had been sent to the minor leagues after his play and production dropped off and was arrested at the Canadian border in June for possession of a controlled substance.,Richards hit two highs and many more lows in four seasons with the Kings

The 31-year-old eventually settled a grievance with Los Angeles but was out of the NHL until the Washington Capitals signed him in January. Richards faces the Kings on Tuesday for the first time since his departure and insists there are no hard feelings toward the organization or Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi.

"He had to do things that he probably did want to do at the end of the day, either, but I didn't make it easy on him, and he had to do what he had to do (for) what he thought benefited the L.A. Kings."," Richards said. "I want to say fault on both parts, to keep me around, but it's probably more so on me

 the first sign Los Angeles was title-bound.,Lombardi could have bought out Richards with no salary-cap ramifications in the summer of 2014 after the Kings' second Cup but let the two-way forward and former Philadelphia Flyers captain convince him to keep him around. The GM adored Richards and still praises him for setting the tempo in the first playoff series in 2012 against Vancouver

Acquired from Philadelphia at the 2011 draft, Richards had 15 points in the 20 games during 2012 Cup run and was his usual penalty-killing, but that didn't happen and his 16 points were a career low., defensive-minded self for the first two seasons before he became a fourth-liner and was a bit part of the 2014 championship. The Kings waived him and sent him to the American Hockey League for a stint a year ago with the hope Richards would get his game together

" and in October they settled on paying him a portion of the $22 million left on the deal.,Richards' off-ice problems publicly came to light when he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance at a North Dakota-Manitoba border crossing June 17. The Kings terminated his contract June 29 "for a material breach of the requirements of his standard player contract

 Richards remembers the Stanley Cups fondly and doesn't want to harp on the bad times.,Looking back on his time with the Kings

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