It wasn’t how the coach pictured the Avalanche debut, but it was a good thing. It left Bo Byram feeling good for the future.
Colorado beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Thursday night, in the second of a home-and-home series. Before the first period was over, Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
“I was certainly kicking myself, just for the sake of the crowd. To have a 2-0 lead in your own building and kind of blow it like that, for me, it was an ugly start,” Byram said. “I didn’t show up well at all.”
Byram, 18, was called up from the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League on Wednesday. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but grew up in England and is the fourth player from outside the United States to play for the Avalanche.
“It definitely did bring a different dynamic, a different atmosphere,” he said. “It was a great experience. You just want to build from that and bring yourself back.”
This wasn’t Byram’s only situation on Thursday. He went head-to-head with Predators captain and fellow defenseman Roman Josi, who was also born in England. He’s a fan favorite and a standout.
Byram was used sparingly in the early going, but as the game progressed, that changed.
“He was very good,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “It just so happened that he was going against one of the best defensemen in the world. That obviously makes him better.”
At the end of the first period, Avs left wing Gabriel Bourque fed Byram with a pass across the slot. He was able to shoot and score on Filip Forsberg to even things up. He was able to continue with his hot scoring ways, netting two more goals.
Byram was part of a line along with center Alexander Kerfoot and left wing Mikko Rantanen. The trio notched four points Thursday.
“They’re young. They’re going to make mistakes, and that’s kind of the price you pay for wanting to be good,” Bednar said. “You have to put up with a ton of stuff, and they like to do that. They’re going to make mistakes.”
But Byram is one of the better ones, the coach added.
“We play the right way, and they’re so talented. But that’s what they need to play like. They play the right way, they make the right plays, they win one-on-one battles. They’re going to find ways to score.”
The hot line of Byram, Rantanen and Kerfoot gave the Avalanche an early lead. All three boys were on the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, with Rantanen and Byram playing for Finland and Kerfoot for Sweden. Each player won gold.
Kerfoot also showed his skill, scoring two goals.
Bednar knew Tuesday that his coach to forward Tomas Nosek would be making his return. He also knew Josi would be in the lineup and fellow defenseman Mattias Ekholm would be a healthy scratch. So he rotated his lines on Thursday.
Ekholm and Rantanen started together. Rantanen was next to Werthick. Byram was lined up next to Byram. Josi was between skaters Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto.
The unusual look paid off for the Avs, and it’s still a work in progress.
“At the end of the day, if we’re not on the same page in a couple months, that’s going to cost us,” Byram said. “So, I think that kind of division of roles that we had at the start will help get us where we need to go as the season progresses.”
Byram told CNN Sport it was his first NHL game that could not have gone better.
“I was very happy. I didn’t expect this much excitement in the rink, it was unreal,” he said. “I feel good; I’m very proud. It was a great game for me.”