KUSA - After a 10-day break, Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy challenged his team Thursday in their first practice since the Olympic break started.
The Avs practiced for more than an hour, and it finished with a hardy conditioning drill at the end. Players had to repeatedly skate back and forth from the goal line to the blue and red lines.
"It was good," Roy said. "Guys worked hard. It is just to get our conditioning back."
By the end, many of the players were doubled-over and gasping for breath.
"It didn't feel great. We expected it," Avs first-year forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "I think we have it the worst out of everybody in the league because we're coming back to altitude. It's over with now. It's obviously tough during it, but we'll be OK."
The Avs, who have been off since Feb. 9, don't play until Feb. 26 against Los Angeles. They skated Thursday without their four Olympians: Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Gabriel Landeskog and Semyon Varlamov.
Roy said after practice that forward Alex Tanguay, who has been sidelined because of a knee injury, will have hip surgery Friday and will miss the rest of the season. The Avs were 15-1 with him in the lineup.
"He's an important player, but at the same time we did well without him," Roy said. "You never like to lose a player like him, but at the same time it's part of the game. It's unfortunate for us, but it will give a chance for some other guys to take over."
Colorado will be back at it early Friday with a 9 a.m. practice, which will give them plenty of time to catch the Canada-United States men's semifinal Olympic game, which begins at 10 a.m. mountain time.
After Thursday's practice, the Avs gathered in the locker room to watch the end of the U.S.-Canada women's game, with the Canadian-born Avs celebrating the overtime win.