Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog can smile about helping to lead his team back to the postseason. Here, he enjoys a light moment in practice on Monday, April 9. (Photo: Mike Rice/KOA NewsRadio)
That's how long the Colorado Avalanche could enjoy their accomplishment of making the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After Saturday night's 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues clinched the team's first postseason berth since the 2013-14 season, the Avalanche was back at work on Monday at Family Sports in Centennial.
"This is step one," forward Gabriel Landeskog told KOA NewsRadio Monday after practice. "This really should become the norm to get here [the postseason]. You look at all the good teams and you look at the Broncos just down the street, the postseason is kind of step one."
Remarkably, the Avs have taken that first step of getting back to the playoffs only a year after they were the worst team in the NHL.
"Where we were 12 months ago, no doubt it's real exciting," Landeskog said. "We're going to enjoy every step of the way but it needs to be said as well we're not happy just to be here."
Where they are is on the verge of a first round matchup with the Nashville Predators, who won the President's Trophy as team with the most points in the NHL this year. The Preds piled up 117 points.
The Avs are undoubtedly the concensus underdog, securing the second wild card in the Western Conference in the final game of the regular season.
"I don't mind being the underdog. I think it's a good spot for our team," head coach Jared Bednar said Monday. "We've kind of been feeling that way all year long that we were an underdog to get into the playoffs."
"I want our guys to play like they did the other night against St. Louis. If we do that, then we give ourselves our best chance.," Bednar added. "I want our guys to have fun and enjoy it but I want us to dig in and be highly competitive. That's the way we were the other night."
Forward Nathan MacKinnon sat out Monday's practice but Bednar said there is no injury behind the rest.
"Just giving him a day of rest. He has eaten a lots of minutes and he's going to continue to do so. We kept him off the ice today."
The Avs will have to figure out a way to handle the powerful Predators, who have won the last 10 games between the two teams. Colorado's last win over Nashville was a 4-3 win on March 28, 2016.
"We know we're up against a real good hockey team," forward Alexander Kerfoot told KOA NewsRadio on Monday. "But it's the playoffs. There's a ton of parity in this league and on any given night, anyone can beat anyone. With that mindset, we know that if we play good hockey we can win games."
The best-of-seven series schedule is as follows:
Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. Colorado at Nashville NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. Colorado at Nashville NBC, CNBC, SN, TVA Sports
Monday, April 16 at 8 p.m. Nashville at Colorado NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 18 at 8 p.m. Nashville at Colorado NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 20 TBD Colorado at Nashville TBD
*Sunday, April 22 TBD Nashville at Colorado TBD
*Tuesday, April 24 TBD Colorado at Nashville TBD
All times mountain
Forward Gabriel Landeskog spoke with KOA NewsRadio's Mike Rice after practice on Monday.
Mike also caught up with forward Alexander Kerfoot.
Comments from head coach Jared Bednar after Monday's practice.
Comments from forward Tyson Jost after Monday's practice.
Comments from defenseman Nikita Zadorov after Monday's practice.
Comments from forward Colin Wilson after Monday's practice.
Pictures from practice on Monday, April 9. All photos: Mike Rice/KOA NewsRadio.
Plan for drills.
Forwards Carl Soderberg (l) and Gabriel Landeskog (r) move in on goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Forward Tyson Jost rips a shot on goalie Andrew Hammond.