In the 5-1 destruction of the Minnesota Wild tonight, the Colorado Avalanche were battling not just the invaders from the north but also themselves as the fight to make the opening night roster intensifies entering the final week of the preseason.

One of the most tightly contested battles is on the blue line where youngster Chris Bigras is attempting to separate himself from a pack that also includes Anton Lindholm, Andrei Mironov, and Duncan Siemens. In his first preseason game, Bigras notched two assists and began his ascent towards the lineup after a relatively quiet Rookie Showcase.

Against the Wild tonight, Bigras didn’t score any points but he looked in control of the pace much of the time he was on the ice and put three shots on goal while notching 7:21 of power play time and 20:43 overall, good for third on the Colorado blue line on the night.

“I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable out there this year versus previous years just trying to jump in offensively,” Bigras said. “I was able to contribute offensively my first game and get things going that way as well.”

One of the areas of focus for the Avalanche front office this past summer was to get faster in order to better serve head coach Jared Bednar’s vision on how he wants the Avalanche to play. So far, so good.

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“We’re coming back in the D-zone quicker to support and it’s translating into better breakouts,” Bigras explained of minor changes to the system this year. “It’s resulting in more time to spend in the offensive zone.”

For Bigras, the increased emphasis on skating ability and breakouts is tailor-made for his skill set as he sees himself as an answer to the problems that have plagued Colorado in recent years.

“As a D that likes to get up in the rush and to join in offensively, it’s huge. The D activating is a huge part of our system and the way the game is going these days. It’s good to get my foot moving up the ice and be a part of that.”

The battle for the final spot carries into the final week as the Avalanche have just two preseason games remaining, at Dallas on Monday night and at Vegas on Thursday, before the team must decide who to keep for its opening night tilt against the New York Rangers on Oct. 5.

“I can’t worry about that and think about that,” Bigras said with a chuckle. “I’m just trying to play my game and see where that lands me.”

Game Notes:

– The Avalanche led the Wild in shots on goal, 39-29. The two teams combined for 15 penalties, continuing the preseason trend of an over the top amount of penalties in each game.

– Tyson Barrie led the Avalanche in shots on goal with seven. The Avalanche defense combined for 15 with only Andrei Mironov failing to tally a SOG.

– Colorado’s big guns dominated the score sheet with Nathan MacKinnon scoring three points (2 g, 1 a), and Gabriel Landeskog chipping in two assists of his own.

– Minnesota’s lone goal came on the power play, meaning Colorado has still only given up two even-strength goals through four games and none in their previous three contests.

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AJ Haefele

This Aurora, Colorado native moved to Katy, Texas at a young age but found himself right back at home in 2009 and would begin covering the Avalanche a year later. Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. has been providing detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at the Avalanche and their divisional foes since 2010.

  • MikeL

    Not to be a downer or anything, but that was a third string goalie, that we scored all of our goals

    • Charlie Anderson

      But 39-29 SOG and dominant in their zone. That 3rd string goalie played awesome, it should have been 10-1.

    • AJ Haefele

      100%. Their lineup largely contained borderline NHL players, too, so the standard preseason caveats apply. But isn’t that exactly the kind of result the predominantly NHL squad SHOULD put up against those guys? I’d say them not laying the wood would have been a lot more concerning.

      • MikeL

        That’s true. It seemed like last year when we went undefeated in the pre season the feeling was “we’ve arrived”. We don’t want that feeling this year, ever. Incidentley I wish I could get into the Bur. rainbow site but I just can’t figure out how to navigate that site.

  • WorkingMan

    This is the stuff I like to hear about. It’s good that at least one of the defenseman is going out and winning a starting job instead of just waiting for everyone else to mess up and win by default. With at least 3 roster spots open for defensemen we need to see more of the young guys step up and take control.

    It’s nice to hear one guy is up for the task.