Avalanche, Blue Jackets have chance to bond, regroup at Global Series

HELSINKI — The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets are hoping that the 2022 Global Series will start to cure what ails them.

The Avalanche, the defending Stanley Cup champions, are 4-4-1 but have lost two straight, 1-0 to the New Jersey Devils on Friday and a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday, the day before they flew to Finland to start their European adventure.

“Not the result we wanted in New York and New Jersey,” said the Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz, who stopped 22 of 23 shots Friday. “This is a special experience for us, but we also know that we’re playing for four points, so we’ll do our best to win these games.”

Each team practices Tuesday and Thursday. Excursions are planned for the off day Wednesday and the games are at Nokia Arena in Tampere on Friday (2 pm ET; NHLN, SN, ALT, BSOH, SN NOW) and Saturday.

[RELATED: More 2022 NHL Global Series Finland coverage]

The Avalanche have a healthy contingent of Finland natives headlined by forwards Mikko Rantanen (Nousiainen) and Arthur Lehkonen (Piikkio), and goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila (Tampere). They plan to visit various top-tier Finnish restaurants and visit the sauna during their time here.

Colorado forward Evan Rodrigues welcomes the week while assimilating his way into the team after signing as a free agent Sept. 12. The Avalanche are on the eighth of a 15-day road trip. Although it has not gone as well as they hoped, taking two of six points so far, Rodrigues believes the work done now will pay big dividends later.

“Yeah, I mean, this is a pretty long one [trip],” Rodrigues said. “We were in New York for a week and now here for a week. So I really get to know the guys and you’re kind of with each other almost 24/7, other than when you’re sleeping. I think it’s definitely a good bonding experience.”

The Avalanche can afford to bond. They know what they’re about after winning the Cup. Desperation, if it arrives, won’t come for a while.

It’s closer for the Blue Jackets (3-7-0), who held a closed-door meeting after a 7-1 loss to the Devils on Sunday. They’ve lost three straight games by a combined 17-4, four of their past five and are last in the Metropolitan Division.

Video: Jenner, Werenski on arrival for Global Series games

“Yeah, it’s a great time for us you know, we’re going to be together all week,” Columbus captain Boone Jenner said. “New foods, new city, walking around. It is a great time for team bonding and things started on the long flight together.”

The Blue Jackets also have two Finnish-born players, a goalie Joonas Korpisalo (Pori) and forward Patrick Laine (Tampere), and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is also from Tampere. The team will have a Finnish comedian perform for them and they will also visit some of the best restaurants and the sauna.

It will all be a nice break from the struggles that were like carry-on baggage during the flight, but the reality of the situation will never be far from their minds. Defenseman Zach Werenski argues that it could be a good thing for the Blue Jackets, who hoped to be in the mix for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season after missing them each of the past two.

“Those are experiences you want to get on the road and on these road trips and doing it in a different country,” Werenski said. “It is a new experience for everyone. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I think it just helps teams grow, especially early in the season. It just brings you closer together.”


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