Overview: During the offseason, widespread changes were brought about for the Avalanche. Gone were Joe Sacco and his staff. In comes the legendary Patrick Roy, with no NHL coaching experience, along with his long-time goaltending coach Francois Allaire and teammate/defense development consultant Adam Foote. Assistant Tim Army remained, being joined by Andre Tourigny.
With the arrival of the legendary Roy, the atmosphere in Denver seemed to have changed for the better and the results have certainly been far better than anyone could have expected out of the rookie coach and his young squad.
How have they graded out through the one-third(ish) point? Let’s take a look.
Allaire isn’t full time, but when he’s in town, he makes it a point to work with both Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere on their positioning and technique. The results are hard to argue with this season.
Giguere has been nigh unbeatable in his half-dozen starts this season and while Varlamov has been a little more streaky of late, it’s really hard to argue with the way he started the season and his 13-7-0 record. Grade: A
Andre Tourigny/Adam Foote
The results are there for the Avalanche, not only in the wins department, but the fact that the Avalanche are currently 9th in the NHL in goals-against-per-game. There are depth concerns right now with Ryan Wilson out and Jan Hejda possibly joining him on the shelf, but they’ve gotten a ton from everyone including journeyman Nate Guenin.
Still, it’s hard to argue with the way the Avs have played defensively, one or two games aside. An absolutely outstanding job so far, though the team needs to do something to add some depth before the injury bug starts biting away. Grade: A-
While it’s easy to credit all that offensive talent, even without Alex Tanguay for an extended period of time, Army deserves a little of the praise for the fact that the Avalanche are currently 7th in the NHL in goals-per-game. They have the potential on a nightly basis to rip off a ton of goals and the way they’re coached certainly plays a part.
The one caveat to this is that the power play is just 19th and has been flailing of late. With all that talent, you would think that a top ten offensive unit would have no problem with a man advantage, yet here we are. Grade: B+
Responsibilities: The Team
For a guy with no NHL head coaching experience, things have worked out pretty well for Roy in his short tenure with the Avalanche. The biggest key to his success, and to former coach Joe Sacco’s failures, is that he doesn’t force his system on his players. He adapts to the strengths of his team and works with them. That’s partially the reason Matt Duchene is flourishing this season.
Another huge reason for the start the Avalanche have had is that they are clearly buying into his passion. He’s vocal, a student of the game and about as impassioned as they come. Seeing their coach nearly break down the glass in between the benches in response to a hit he thought was dirty had to be a solidifying moment for the team. Roy’s message is getting through and the players are buying in. Grade: A
If the grades seem generous, keep in mind that this is a rookie coach taking over a team that just had the first pick in the NHL draft. He’s not taking over a veteran squad with a track record of winning that just needed a shakeup.
He’s got the talent, yes, but most of it is still very young and getting them pointed in the right direction can be difficult. Roy is getting close to the maximum from his team this year, especially in terms of goaltending and defense.
Can he keep this team going all year long? That’s the question that only Roy can answer.
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