Shane Bowers, Avs penalty-kill specialist? If it means sticking with Stanley Cup champs, that’s cool by him.


Shane Bowers, penalty-kill specialist?

Hey, if that’s what it takes to stick on the Avalanche roster, the 23-year-old center is more than happy to donate his wiry, 6-foot-2 frame to the cause.

“I think that I skate well and I think I’m long,” the young Avs center and former first-round draft pick said before Colorado’s preseason finale Wednesday night at Ball Arena against the Dallas Stars. “And I think that helps (me) being on the penalty kill, trying to get in lanes and take down time and space from the other team.

“So I think, for sure, my skating works the best with that.”

As the only first-round selection from the 2017 NHL draft who’s yet to appear in an NHL game, the former Boston University star isn’t too proud to grind his way into the picture. Especially with veteran fourth-liner Darren Helm a possibility to miss the season-opener next week against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I thought I’ve had a good camp,” said the Halifax native, who’d logged a goal on five shots while averaging 12:13 of ice time over his first three exhibition appearances for the Avs.

“I felt prepared coming into it, (from) my summer training. (I’m) just trying to show my best every night and every day and go from there.”

The math going into the preseason finale had roughly six skaters — including Bowers — battling for the final two-to-three slots on the opening-night roster, pending injuries.

“I think for me, it’s just (that) you’ve got to be consistent, work hard, be competitive, finish my checks and be strong on pucks,” said Bowers, who was drafted No. 28 overall by Ottawa in 2017 and obtained in the Matt Duchene trade. “And I think that’s just what I’ve been trying to do.”

The 186-pound forward, who signed a 1-year, two-way contract this past August, isn’t clear on his role in the organization’s long-term picture — “(Waivers are) out of your control, you can’t control that,” he noted — but feels physically stronger than he did at this time a year ago.

Mentally stronger, too, after weathering recent absences because of a shoulder injury and COVID while a member of the AHL Colorado Eagles.

“No one ever wants to be injured,” reflected Bowers, who’s made just 65 regular-season appearances with the Eagles, combined, over the past two seasons, posting 13 goals and 18 assists.

“And when you have to go through that stuff, it makes you realize how much you miss it and how much you want to be out there.

“So going through that (stinks), but I think at the end of the day, it kind of helps prepare you to be better off.”

You know what helps with that preparation? Picking the brains of Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. Watching two of the NHL’s generational talents, up close, every single day.

“Obviously, being around all the players, you can watch the way they work, the way they compete, and all the things they do, and try to pick a few things from that, and try and put (that in) your own game,” Bowers said. “Obviously, they do things at a lot higher level than most guys. So some things, you might not be able to do right away. But just being able to watch and learn from that — it’s huge.”

MacK in, Compher out? While MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushskin were slated to make their preseason debuts against the Stars on Wednesday night, J.T. Compher was in a red non-contact sweater during pregame skate and wasn’t expected to play.


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