Andreas Englund fights for his affiliation with Avalanche
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The loss of Josh Manson took the bite out of the Avalanche defense.
The Avalanche, their most physical defender now out for an extended period, needed an intimidator in the back end who could also play real minutes.
That meant a second chance for Andreas Englund.
The 26-year-old defenseman, who was drafted to the Colorado Eagles for four games just 10 days earlier after being drafted, was brought back to meet the team in Boston.
15 games in a row he’s made the best of it.
That doesn’t mean he won’t stop fighting.
This fight was displayed on Monday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. After suffering a huge strike from Keegan Kolesar early in the first half, the two met again and decided to drop the gloves.
This wasn’t a quick fight.
40 seconds and several wages later their fight would come to an end. at ice hockey fightsthe majority of voters saw the fight as a “draw”.
I found it physically demanding.
“That’s a lot,” Englund told me after practice on Tuesday. “It will take a few minutes. Well, you have five minutes to recover in the box. It’s exhausting, you have to work really hard and you can’t relax for a second or something bad could happen, so it’s tough.”
For someone trying to earn a full-time NHL seat, relaxing is not an option. After being sent back to the Eagles in November, Avalanche staff have clearly communicated what Englund wants to continue working on.
“Make sure to play to my strengths,” Englund said, he was told by the squad. “Tighten my gaps and make sure I have a good first pass. It’s always been a big part of my game.”
Playing to his strengths worked.
A physically imposing man on skates, his 17.44 strokes per 60 minutes is the highest among regular defenders on the roster. His largely consistent game has earned him the trust of the staff as he has been averaging 17 shifts per game since returning to the team in early December.
Did he feel more comfortable the second time?
“Absolutely,” Englund said. “Especially after you’ve played a few games you get into the game a little bit more so I would definitely say I’m more comfortable.”
Selected as a second-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2014, Englund played 33 games in four seasons for the Canadian club, spending most of that time in the AHL. The senators did not qualify him in 2021, clearing the way for him to join the Avalanche organization.
Englund knows he’s matured a lot since his first taste of the NHL.
“You learn a lot over the years,” he told CHN. “There’s a big difference in maturing both as a person and as a hockey player and I feel like I’m better overall than where I was. It has improved a lot and I am happy about that.”
As the NHL faced COVID-19 delays ahead of the 2020-21 season, Englund, then a restricted free agent with the Senators, decided to stay in Sweden to play Vastervik’s IK. A season-ending injury thwarted that plan as he played for zero games.
That meant that by the time he got his start with the Colorado Eagles, he’d been playing without professional hockey for well over a year and a half. An adjustment was required.
“It was definitely an experience sitting out for a year and a half,” he said. “It was frustrating knowing I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it took a while and it was an experience to come back from.”
Manson was back on the ice Tuesday for the first time since leaving the lineup, meaning there could be one spot down on the list soon.
Does Englund think he’s done enough to show he can be an everyday NHL defender?
“Yes,” he said when asked. “I feel like I’m doing fine, playing solid defense and coming out fast. I definitely think there are things I need to work on, but so far I’m feeling pretty good.”