Roy Leading Avs Through Uncharted Territory

First-year coach Patrick Roy preaching focus and confidence as unblemished Colorado enters season's third week

Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 3:19 PM
Scott Ward
This franchise has been here before, but this team—the 2013-14 version—has never experienced anything like this.

The Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques franchise has been 5-0 in its history. It’s done it three times now, in fact: in 1985-86 (that team eventually ran its record to 7-0), in 1994-95 and this year. But the Avs’ roster that will skate tonight against Dallas (7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center) has no real connection to any of those squads, other than sharing space in the same records section of the same media guide.

But the Avs’ roster that will skate tonight against Dallas (7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center) has no real connection to any of those squads, other than sharing space in the same records section of the same media guide.

So, without anything to fall back on, how will Colorado respond to the renewed interest in its existence and to the water cooler talk of, ‘Is this team for real?’ that’s beginning to bubble up between fans and non-fans alike.

To Avs head coach Patrick Roy, whose Tuesday-morning news conference was nearly standing-room only, the answer is easy: Just stay the course.

“Right now I think no one is complacent—we just want to make sure … you know what?” Roy said Tuesday morning, switching direction in thought. “When you start having success like we have you could get complacent and not focusing on the right things, and you [could] try to change, but I think that’s what our guys have been good at: they stay focused.

“I think it is important for us to realize that, ‘Hey, we should never lose our confidence. We should be confident all the time … .’ Focus right now is probably the key thing for us. We’re focused before the games, and we’re focused during our games as well.

Roy’s return to the Avalanche this summer has been a polarizing event, to be sure, and Colorado’s perfect start to this season has done nothing to quell that storm.

Roy’s presence with the team, though—in the locker room, at a podium, on the bench—is the one thing that figures to help the Avalanche players deal with the expectations that come with a perfect start under the tutelage of one of hockey’s all-time greatest players.

While Roy’s addition added almost immediate pressure, it’s his leadership that’s helping Colorado deal with the extra, early-season spotlight.

That starts tonight against the Stars. It starts in the first 10 minutes. That’s all Roy wants his team to focus on.

“We’re happy about our road trip,” Roy said, “but at the same time you want to make sure we have a great start. The start of tonight’s game is going to be very important, in the first 10 minutes. We’re going to need everybody to be sharp, and I’m sure [Dallas] is going to try to start this one really well. We’re going to have to be sharp right off the bat.”


ROSTER NOTES

Defenseman Nick Holden, Tyson Barrie and Marc-Andre Cliche will be healthy scratches tonight against Dallas, according to Roy.

Forward Cody McLeod will be active and is ready to go after leaving Saturday’s game with a leg injury. He had to be helped off the ice in the second period after taking a shot to the knee off the stick of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.

“[McLeod] skated [Monday], and this morning he said he was ready to go,” Roy said.

Holden has yet to appear in a game this season, and Cliche has appeared in one, the Avalanche’s 3-1 win against Nashville on Oct. 4.

Barrie skated in Colorado’s first four games this season, but he’s been the odd man out so far since Saturday, when defenseman Ryan Wilson returned to the lineup from the Injured Reserved list.

“Right now there’s nothing with Tyson that’s wrong,” Roy said. “He didn’t play that bad, we just feel that we’re comfortable with the veterans out there, and I think he’s 22-years-old, [and] he needs to be patient. We’re very happy with the leadership of [defenseman Cory] Sarich; we’re very happy the way [defenseman Nate] Guenin has been playing, killing penalties.”


KEEP AN EYE ON

- In conjunction with the NHL’s league-wide initiative during October the Avalanche tonight is hosting its Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

The Avs will join the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) to honor those in the hockey community who have struggled or continue to struggle with the disease.

“Cancer is probably one of the biggest evils in the world, and anything we can do to fight that is huge,” Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said. “I lost a great-aunt, who was way too young, to breast cancer a few years back, so I’ve been directly affected by it, seeing the hard time my family went through with that. It’s nice to be able to do something toward that and raise awareness. I’m going to have the purple tape on the top of my twig tonight, so it’s good.

“I’ll be thinking about my Aunt Ruby while we’re playing.”

For a complete rundown on the Avalanche’s support during tonight’s game, click here.

- The Avs and Stars are competing in the same division for the first time in 2013-14. Colorado and Dallas will face off five times this year: twice in Denver and three times in Texas. The Avs finished 1-2-0 against the Stars last season, 1-1-0 at home. All-time, the Avs are 51-43-12-7 versus the Stars, which includes totals from both the Quebec Nordiques and Minnesota North Stars. The Avs are 28-25-8-7 against Dallas since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995.

- At 5-0, the Avalanche is off to its best season start since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. Its previous best start was 2-0, which happened in 2009 and 2001. Colorado's 5-0 record is tied for the second-best start in franchise history (Nordiques, 1994) and it trails just the 1985-86 Nordiques team that got off to a 7-0 start.

- The Avs have not allowed more than one goal in any of their first five games, yielding just four goals total during this 5-0 start. Colorado is the first team in NHL history to begin a season with five straight wins while allowing no more than one goal in each game.

- The Avalanche has posted a league-best 0.80 goals-against average. Its four goals allowed are also a league low and the fewest through five games in franchise history. The last NHL team to allow four or fewer goals through the first five games of a season was the 2007-08 Minnesota Wild (Western Conference quarterfinals).

- Colorado is the only NHL team this season to not yet allow a power-play goal, killing off all 12 of its shorthanded situations.

This is the first time in franchise history that the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise has gone five games into a season without allowing a power-play goal. The previous best franchise mark was three games without a power-play goal, set in 1984 by Quebec and matched in 2006 and 2011 by the Avalanche.

- Duchene needs two points to reach 200 career NHL points.

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