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A silver lining of Avalanche’s long COVID break? “We will probably be healthy for the first time all year round”

The Colorado Avalanche is stuck in hockey purgatory after two weeks without a game.

A silver lining for the team’s long COVID-19 break?

“We’ll probably be healthy for the first time all year,” said defender Erik Johnson.

The Avs will return to the Ball Arena on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks, aside from other virus concerns. Colorado trained in action with almost every major player on Thursday. Injured defenders Bo Byram (upper body) and Ryan Murray (lower body) wore full contact sweaters. Strikers Mikko Rantanen and Logan O’Connor also made a comeback from health and safety logs.

The NHL coordinated with the CDC this week to reduce mandatory COVID isolation times to five days. This means two more Avs players currently on the list – goalkeeper Pavel Francouz and defender Darren Helm – are expected to return to the team before Sunday, coach Jared Bednar said.

“We’ll look at the positives. There is no point in dwell on the negative, ”said Bednar. “We played pretty good hockey before the break, even without the boys. But it’s definitely nice to get as close to our full roster as we got here for the Anaheim game all year. Hopefully we can continue that as the season progresses. … We will all need our boys healthy. “

Avalanche players deliberately distanced themselves from their teammates during the NHL break to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“Fortunately, I have a gym at home,” said Johnson. “I was able to leave the house and I didn’t test positive, so that was good. One of my neighbors has an outdoor lane with air conditioning. I caught some ice. That was great.”

With the Avalanche (17-8-2), who last played on December 16, it wasn’t easy to get back in shape – a 5-2 defeat at the Nashville Predators. “It can take a few days for things to get going again,” said defense attorney Jack Johnson.

Colorado has two more workouts before Sunday to shake off the rust.

“Most of the guys I’ve spoken to are a little hurt from a conditioning standpoint,” Bednar said. “I had the feeling that we hit the puck a little bit (Thursday) in the first part of the training. … your legs feel better and the energy level is better. I liked their practices and their dedication to playing the way we want to.

“We are definitely on the right track.”

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