On the 82-game NHL schedule, tonight's matchup with the Montreal Canadiens is just another game for Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy.
He is looking for his club to have success with its systems, dictate the pace of play, get some good scoring chances and ride the momentum from last night's 3-2 overtime win in Dallas to a victory on home ice.
But while the game itself is just like any other, the opponent makes it a special night for Roy, as he played 11 full seasons with the Canadiens and helped the franchise win two Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993.
"I've been saying to everybody that it is just another game, but deep inside I guess its not," Roy said. "It's always special to play against a former team."
Roy's departure from Montreal on Dec. 6, 1995 has been well documented, and its safe to say that the two parties didn't have the best relationship at the time of "Le Trade."
However, time has seemed to heal any wounds for both sides.
Many people in the Montreal organization when Roy was a player are no longer there, and the Canadiens showed their gratitude for one of their greatest goalies of all time by retiring Roy's No. 33 in 2008.
Today, Roy looks fondly on his time in Montreal.
"I have so much respect for them," Roy said. "Things are so much different than when I was traded and when I was a player. … Things have turned around the last 10 years, and I am so happy to have such a good relationship with the Montreal Canadiens."
While the relationship now is better than it was, Roy always wanted to play his best when facing the Canadiens as a player, and he did just that by going 8-1-2 (W-L-T) with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 11 career games versus his former club.
Expect Roy to have his team ready to play its best again tonight in a contest that it seems like the Colorado coach has been looking forward to playing for some time.
"It's a lot different than when I was a player here in Denver, but at the same time it's always special," Roy said of playing the Canadiens. "It’s a big game for us, [and] it's a big night for us as well. It's fun to be apart of it I would say."
AVALANCHE SPOTLIGHT ON: ADAM FOOTE
Longtime defenseman and former captain Adam Foote will have his No. 52 retired by the Avalanche before tonight's game against Montreal.
Foote played 17 of his 19 NHL seasons with the Colorado/Quebec organization and played in more regular-season (967) and playoff games (170) than any other defenseman in franchise history.
He is the second-highest scoring defenseman in franchise history with 259 points (56 goals and 203 assists) in 967 games, and he also ranks second in plus/minus in franchise annals with a plus-129 rating, with only Peter Forsberg (plus-210) having more.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he is thrilled to have his friend and former roommate on the road have his sweater retired to the rafters of Pepsi Center.
"It means a lot. I'm so happy for him," Roy said. "He is a player that I enjoyed seeing him play in front of me. I enjoyed every game he was here. He was a warrior for us, playing against the top line every night. "He battled, he competed, and we had no doubt that he would perform at a high level. He made it tough on the [opposing team's] top lines."
Foote, who is also on Colorado's coaching staff as a defense development consultant, will join Joe Sakic (No. 19), Forsberg (No. 21), Roy (No. 33) and Ray Bourque (No. 77) as the only players to have their numbers retired by the Avalanche.
Also, tonight's opponent is fitting for Foote, as he scored his first NHL point (an assist) on Nov. 21, 1991 against the Canadiens.
MORE MORNING NOTES
-Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start in net tonight for the Avalanche. Giguere, who was born in Montreal, is 7-3-1 and has a 2.62 goals-against average and a .913 save-percentage all-time against the Canadiens.
-With the Avalanche playing last night, the club didn't have a formal morning skate. Jamie McGinn, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden and goalie Semyon Varlamov were the only players on the ice and participated in drills with Colorado assistant coach Tim Army.
-McGinn skated for the first time this morning after suffering a knee injury Oct. 25 versus Carolina. Roy said McGinn is ready to play tonight, but he will hold him out since he hasn't practiced in a few days. Roy expects McGinn to play Wednesday against Nashville.
-The Avalanche and Canadiens will meet twice this year, tonight in Denver and March 18 in Montreal. This year marks the first time that these two clubs will meet more than once in a season since 1999-2000. The Avs have won three straight over the Canadiens, which included a 6-5 shootout win in the most recent meeting on Oct. 15, 2011 at the Bell Centre. The Avalanche/Nordiques are 52-66-15 all-time against the Canadiens. Colorado is 13-4-3 versus Montreal since moving to Denver in 1995.
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