Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien, a healthy scratch in Saturday's season-opening 4-2 loss at Minnesota, was one of the last players to exit the practice ice Monday. He was working on rebuilding his pride, among other things.
"Obviously, the coaching staff feels like I don't give the team the best chance to win right now. It's never fun," said O'Brien, 29. "All you can do is continue to work hard, wait for your chance to get back in there, and when you do, you have to play well."
O'Brien, who does not appear out of shape physically, re-signed with the Avs last summer, agreeing to a three-year, $6 million contract.He hopes to be among the six defensemen in Tuesday's home-opening lineup against the Los Angeles Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, but realizes the Avs have no time to wait for players to find their groove in the shortened 48-game season.
"Coming off the lockout and stuff, it was a different situation," O'Brien, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, said of last week's abbreviated training camp. "I'm feeling better each day. It's tough to judge in practice how you're playing, because the games are so much different. It would be nice to get in there and see how I feel during a game. Right now, that's not the case. So all I have is practice to prove I'm ready to play."
The Avs are carrying 13 forwards and eight defensemen, and given that coach Joe Sacco prefers a traditional lineup, one forward and two defensemen must be scratched.
Sacco's D-corps Saturday featured Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, Ryan O'Byrne, Greg Zanon and second-year pro Tyson Barrie.
O'Brien, defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Chuck Kobasew (illness) were scratched.
"Obviously, depth is good," said the 32-year-old Zanon, one of three new Colorado players signed to free-agent deals last summer. "Nobody wants to sit out, but that's the situation we're put in. If you're not in, you do whatever you can to keep your head up and stay in shape and when it's your turn you play hard."
Read more: Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien eagerly awaits his turn to play - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_22422042#ixzz2IjGweeOj
Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien eagerly awaits his turn to play
Denver Post | Jan 22