Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NHL ; Struggling Avalanche Try to Get on Track during 4-Game Trip

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NHL ; Struggling Avalanche Try to Get on Track during 4-Game Trip

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Slumping Colorado forward Jarome Iginla experimented with a new stick at practice Monday. Anything to ignite a team that's constantly winding up on the short end of one this season. The Avs have accumulated a league-worst 19 points through 23 games in coach Jared Bednar's first season at the helm. They're missing their captain, top defenseman and a consistent scoring punch as they tumble farther behind the Central Division leaders.

"There's no question we've been pressing a little bit and pushing, said Iginla, whose team begins a four-game trip Tuesday night in Nashville. "We know the importance, because we don't want to dig ourselves too big of a hole. We've just got to make sure we're as sharp as we can be.

Iginla shelved his old stick after scoring just one goal in his last 15 contests. They early returns on this particularly curved model are favorable, too. He beat Calvin Pickard with a shot in practice that had the backup goaltender gushing later on.

"I'm due. I'm due for a change, said the 39-year-old Iginla, who's scored 614 career goals and sits 11 away from tying Hall of Fame forward/Avalanche GM Joe Sakic for 15th place on the all-time list. "I'd like to get contributing here, production-wise, for the group.

The team has scored just 49 times this season, which is among the lowest in the league. They're generating 29.2 shots per game five less than NHL leader Pittsburgh.

The scoring chances have certainly been there for speedy forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a league-high 61 shots in November. But he's just not cashing in at the moment, with only four goals last month. He has five for the season and 10 assists.

"It's a matter of putting the puck in the net, because once you get hot, they tend to start going in, said MacKinnon, who a signed $44.1 million, seven-year deal in the offseason. "It will turn for me. …

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