One of Patrick’s Roy’s first tasks in his return to the Avalanche in May was to cultivate a consistent organizational approach for use in Denver and in Cleveland, the home of Colorado’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
The way each team was coached needed to be the same. The way each team treated its players needed to be the same. The way each team played the game needed to be the same.
The Avalanche Way, if you will.
The reason? Roy wanted the ability at the drop of a hat to pluck a player when necessary from the Monsters and plug that player right into his NHL lineup. He didn’t want to have to slow things down for new additions, as that would halt progress and momentum for the rest of the players in the Avs’ dressing room.
“We want to make sure that the players who are playing in Cleveland are playing the same way they’re going to play with the Avalanche,” Roy said during the Avs’ Media Day in September. “When a player comes to play in Denver he’s going to know what to do on the ice. He’s not going to need two, three days to adapt. … He will feel comfortable when he comes. There’s going to be one voice.”
That approach put in place last spring and summer was for the exact situation Roy and the Avs find themselves in as they prepare for tonight’s game against Chicago (7:30 p.m. MT; Altitude TV/Altitude Radio).
Paul Stastny (back; day-to-day) and PA Parenteau (knee; out four to six weeks) are unavailable, so Brad Malone and Paul Carey were recalled from the Monsters late Monday night, following the Avs’ 3-2, overtime win against Winnipeg.
They will skate tonight at Pepsi Center, potentially on a line with Patrick Bordeleau.
The Avs have recalled a few other players this year, of course, but Carey and Malone are set for rather prominent roles and will play against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. And without any real NHL-level practice or Chicago preparation to speak of.
The ability for each to hit the ice running—or skating, in this case—will be key.
“What I’m looking for from [Carey] and Brad Malone,” Roy said, “is I want them to play the same way they were in Cleveland. We’re playing the same system. Defensively it should not be a big adjustment for them, and offensively we want them to drive and show some intensity. I think it should go well.”
Added Malone: “Down in Cleveland, the coaches establish the same mentality and preach the same things as when you come up and see [Roy] and the [Avs assistant] coaches. When they do that it’s obviously an easier transition, and it just makes you more comfortable. You don’t have to walk into the room and learn a new system. You’re not thinking out there—you’re just going out and playing. It definitely helps.”
Malone is in his second stint with the Avalanche this season, and he’s also appeared in NHL games with Colorado during the 2011-12 season and last year, so his earning curve won’t be as steep. Carey is making his NHL debut.
Both players arrived in Denver late Tuesday morning and were on the ice for an optional skate session at Family Sports in Centennial. Later, Malone got reacquainted with former teammates, while Carey just tried to discern which way was up after a memorable but whirlwind night.
“It’s been a crazy 12 hours,” said Carey, who was sleeping when he got the call from the Avs and missed it initially. “I missed it, so my roommate had to call me and say, ‘Hey, pick up your phone.’
“Finding out I was coming up was something special. I had to wake my parents up and tell them, and I just packed everything up and [flew] out here.”
Malone had two assists in his first stay with the Avs this season, which spanned from Nov. 18 to Jan. 22 and included being a healthy scratch 15 times.
Carey, 25 and the Avalanche’s fifth-round selection (135th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, has 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 54 games this season with Lake Erie. He spent all of last year with Lake Erie (41 points – 19 goals, 22 assists) after helping Boston College to NCAA titles in 2010 and 2012.
“I’m definitely here to play as hard as I can and show the guys that I belong at this level,” Carey said. “It’s definitely exciting with these games coming up. I looked at the schedule and just to play some of these teams will be pretty awesome.”
» The Avalanche and Blackhawks will play for the fifth and final time this regular season. Colorado has won three of the four previous meetings, with defenseman Tyson Barrie knocking in game winners in the past two.
» Goaltender Semyon Varlamov (32-12-5) is the Avs’ anticipated starter in net tonight at Pepsi Center. He’s 3-0 vs. Chicago this season, with a 1.47 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage in four games (three starts).
Varlamov’s next victory will be the 100th of his career. He would become the fourth Russsian-born NHL netminder to reach the century mark, joining Evgeni Nabokov (347), Nikolai Khabibulin (333) and Ilya Bryzgalov (213).
On the other side, there’s speculation that Antti Raanta (12-2-3) will start in net for Chicago.
Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks’ No. 1 goalie, is 2-6-2 in his career against the Avalanche, with a 3.36 GAA. He allowed the Avs to score three goals in a little more than 13 minutes at Pepsi Center on Nov. 19.
“We’ll see at game time if [Crawford's] not in,” Roy said. “I’ve seen [changes] in the past. They are trusting their two goaltenders, like we do on our side—we trust our goalies.”
» As the only team in the NHL to not yet suffer a shutout, Colorado (65 games) is the deepest it’s ever been into a season without surrendering at least one goal in a game. That stat has played well toward wins, with the Avalanche 32-1-3 this season when scoring first (.889 winning percentage), which leads the NHL.
» ESPN’s John Buccigross, a known college hockey fan, tweeted yesterday encouragement for Carey when news broke of Carey’s call-up to the Avs.
Roy gave a succinct scouting report on the 25-year-old forward during his post-morning skate media session Wednesday:
“He’s a fast skater. He’s a player that our [organization likes]. He’s going to the net a lot, and I just want to see him competing.”
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