Bruins look to continue hot start versus Avalanche

Field Level Media

The Boston Bruins have shown no ill-effects from losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. The defending Eastern Conference champions are off to a flying start to this year, winning their first three games -- all on the road.

That momentum will be tested when they play their last road game before Saturday's home opener. Boston, fresh off of a 4-3 win in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, faces the unbeaten and rested Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Thursday night.

Colorado has won its first two games but hasn't played since Saturday night. It's a rare early rest but one the Avalanche have used to their advantage. Veteran defenseman Ian Cole hasn't played this year while recovering from surgery on both hips last season but he is OK to practice.

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"He's cleared for contact, he's joining our team, so we'll just watch him now, continue to watch his progress at practice now that he's (practicing) 5-on-5 and allowed to compete in full participation," coach Jared Bednar told reporters. "We'll make a judgment on when he's going to play."

Despite Cole's improvement, he may not play Thursday. The Avalanche made one roster move, sending rookie defenseman Conor Timmins to the Colorado Eagles of the AHL and recalling defenseman Kevin Connauton. Mark Barberio, a healthy scratch for the first two games, and Connauton are candidates to be in the lineup against the Bruins.

The five-day layoff has given new center Nazem Kadri a chance to rest his sore foot. He took a shot off of it in the second period of Saturday's win over Minnesota and hobbled to the locker room. He returned to the ice in the third period.

Bednar also gave forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher and Joonas Donskoi an off day from practice on Tuesday. Compher won't play due to a lower-body injury but forward Colin Wilson is expected to suit up for the first time this year.

"We're a little bit dinged up, nothing that I anticipate is going to be long term," Bednar said.

The only thing the Avalanche can worry about going against the Bruins is they're a little rusty, and that might be a legitimate concern against a hot opponent. Boston has outscored its first three opponents 7-4, including a 1-0 shutout by Tuukka Rask in Arizona on Saturday night.

"We have a good group. We're pretty much all together again. We've got a couple of new guys, but we have a good team," forward Brad Marchand said after the win over the Vegas Golden Knights. "We're going to compete every night. That's what's in this room, that's what we expect."

Teams with deep playoff runs sometimes struggle to start the ensuing season but the short summer seems to have kept the Bruins sharp.

"It's not too long since we last played together and I think we have pretty much the same group, so we know the system and it helps," Rask said after making 31 saves against the Golden Knights. "I think we're feeling comfortable playing together and even though we were down a couple of goals we just trust the system and it worked out today."

--Field Level Media

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