Avs Injuries Adding Up, But So Are the Wins
Colorado aims to continue record start with seven on the shelf
Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy walked into his post-practice news conference Wednesday afternoon carrying a sheet of paper with scribbles and notes peppered across it.
The Avs are set to face New Jersey tonight (7 p.m. MT; Altitude), but they’ll do so with a sizeable group of players injured and not in the lineup.
Giving an injury update is a typical bullet point in Roy’s dealings with the media, but he’s usually able to shoot from the cuff, laying out which player or two is hurting and where they’re hurting and how long they’ll be on the shelf.
Not Wednesday, though. Not with seven Avs nursing injuries.
Hence the “cheat sheet.”
With three defensemen out of commission during Wednesday’s practice and four forwards and a goalie held out, too, Roy had a lot on his plate. It took him more than a minute just to go through the details of the wounded Avalanche.
Nate Guenin, Roy said, is out for the next seven to 10 days with his ankle injury, Paul Stastny (leg) is day to day, and newcomer David Van Der Gulik, who just joined the team last week from AHL-affiliate Lake Erie, is out with head trauma.
Forwards Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) and PA Parenteau (knee) have been out since November and December, respectively. Roy said Tanguay is happy with his progress and nearing a return to full practice, and Parenteau has begun to skate and might be back within a week or two.
"I think that’s about it," Roy said with a smile and laugh once he was finished with his notes recitation.
Roy then started his Thursday morning media chat in a similar vein. But he didn’t have his notes. He likely had spent most of the time between conferences staring at the list, figuring out his team's short-handed approach.
The news mostly remained the same from Wednesday to Thursday, with the exception of Johnson and Giguere. Johnson skated in the morning practice and will play vs. the Devils, and Giguere is available, too, after his back spasms have subsided.
Stastny won’t play against New Jersey, but Roy said he could be back for the Avs game Saturday in Nashville.
It all leaves the Avalanche line formations like so:
Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn will play on the wings with Matt Duchene. Nathan MacKinnon will center a trio with Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell, and Cody McLeod and Max Talbot will work with center Marc-Andre Cliche.
Karl Stollery will serve as a seventh defensemen. He’s on his second assignment with the Avalanche this week after receiving a call up Friday night for Saturday’s game against the Wild before getting reassigned to Lake Erie in time to play in a Sunday game in Milwaukee. He got another call to Denver yesterday.
The Avalanche comes into Thursday with 88 combined man games lost because of injury, but those holes in the boat haven’t caused the ship to sink. A win tonight against the Devils would match this year’s team with the franchise’s 2000-01 team for the fastest squad to 30 wins in franchise history (47th game).
“It shows that our guys care,” Roy said. “It shows that our guys want to do well, and they want to do better, and they’re not satisfied. I’m very proud of them.”
“Sometimes when this stuff happens, guys step up in ways they wouldn’t before,” said Matt Duchene, who assisted on Tyson Barrie’s overtime game winner Tuesday at United Center. “You get a little of the pressure off, and you play a little bit looser.”
ROY VS. BRODEUR
Thursday’s game won’t feature nearly the same environment as Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final, but anytime Roy and New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur are in the same building, it’s hard not to reminisce on one of the seminal moments in Avalanche history.
Roy helped Colorado to a 3-1 win against Brodeur’s Devils in that 2001 finale, and he earned his fourth Stanley Cup and third Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.
Roy finished his playing career as the winningest goalie in NHL history (551) but has since been surpassed by Brodeur, who’s playing his 20th NHL season at the age of 41. He earned career victory No. 682 on Tuesday at Montreal.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for [Brodeur],” Roy said. “It’s amazing what he’s been doing. I would not see myself at  playing in the NHL. It’s quite an accomplishment.”
Roy stepped away from the game in 2003 and, after spending time in ownership and in coaching the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior League, he rejoined the Avalanche this season as its coach and vice president of hockey operations.
Does he see a similar future for Brodeur?
“I wish for him because [coaching is] a great job,” Roy said. “I’m very happy to be here, and I like to be in [this] situation. It’s a great thing for me after such a nice career to be able to continue where my passion is.”
- The Avalanche is 6-1-1 in its past eight games. With a victory tonight it would match the franchise’s 2000-01 team as the fastest team to 30 wins in franchise history (47th game).
- The Avs are 11-3-1 this season against Eastern Conference teams and 6-2-1 at home against them. Colorado is 24-7-2 against Eastern Conference opponents since the start of the 2011-12 season and 72-37-8 since 2005-06.
- Matt Duchene turns 23 today. He has played on his birthday once previously, and it was coincidentally also against the Devils (Jan. 16, 2010). He had an assist in that game, a 3-1 victory at Pepsi Center.
“Still learning a lot,” Duchene said of his experience through five seasons in the league. “No. 1, it’s incredibly hard to win in this league. No. 2, just when you think you’ve got it figured out you don’t, and No. 3, the best way to stay consistent is keep your emotions in check. That’s what I’m still working on.”
- Ryan O’Reilly has three goals in his past two games and has accounted for 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in his past 11 games. He leads the Avalanche with 17 goals this season, and he’s just one goal shy of his career high, set during the 2011-12 season. O’Reilly shares the team lead with four game-winning goals and ranks second with five power-play tallies.
- Gabriel Landeskog has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in Colorado’s past 11 games.
- The Avalanche will wear its third jersey tonight against the Devils. It’s 3-1-2 this season in the “blues.”