Patrick Roy Must Find Right Line Combinations


The Colorado Avalanche have two wins this season. They’ve lost three of their last four games in overtime or a shootout and aside from a seven goal downpour against a tired Vancouver Canucks team starting their back-up goal, they’re still struggling to score goals.

There are many different things wrong with this team right now. But to me the biggest problem is Patrick Roy and his line juggling.

In the last game against the San Jose Sharks, Roy went with the Joe Sacco method of pulling names out of a hat in order to create line combos. It worked about as well as you would’ve expected it to.

Roy has yet to find the right combinations this line despite all of his mixing and matching. To me, the answers are right in front of him.

Line 1: Gabriel Landeskog – Matt Duchene – Ryan O’Reilly

This line was put together in the third period of the Sharks game and produced a goal. Duchene has been the best player on the team this season and can seemingly play with any combination of wingers. O’Reilly has struggled to regain his scoring touch that saw him lead the team in goals last season. O’Reilly was able to score 28 goals last year thanks in large part to being paired with Duchene all season. Why has it taken Roy this long to put the duo back together? Your guess is as good as mine. Duchene and O’Reilly have unmistakable chemistry. Add Landeskog to that pairing and you have a mix of skill and grit that would be tough to match-up against. Again, Roy put this combination together late in the third and it worked. Hopefully they stay together for the next game.

Line 2: Alex Tanguay – Nathan MacKinnon – Jarome Iginla

I can’t count how many different players MacKinnon has been paired up with this season. No matter who he’s playing alongside, he’s still not producing goals. So why not flank him with two veterans who already have a built in chemistry from their days in Calgary? Every time Iginla and Tanguay are on the ice together, good things seem to happen. MacKinnon might not be scoring right now, but with Tanguay and Iginla by his side, he won’t have to try and create on every shift. He can allow the instincts of those two to take over and just play his game, which should lead to good things.

Line 3: Jamie McGinn – John Mitchell – Daniel Briere

Briere has scored both game-winning goals for the Avs this season but for some reason is playing a game low 6-7 minutes every night these past couple of games. So the Avs traded P.A. Parenteau and a draft pick for a $4 million fourth liner? How can we get a refund on that one? For some reason Max Talbot is taking Briere’s minutes even though Talbot doesn’t have much of a scoring touch. In fact, Talbot missed two chances right in the crease against San Jose. You know who excels at scoring around the crease and has scored both his goals around the crease? Our $4 million fourth liner. This line combination would provide the Avs with some hard work and some scoring.

Line 4: Max Talbot – Marc-Andre Cliche – Cody McLeod

Here are the guys that should only be playing 6-8 minutes a game and killing penalties. These guys aren’t goal scorers, but they can muck it up with the best of them and maybe they’ll get a lucky bounce or two. Unlike Briere, Talbot doesn’t have a scoring touch and wouldn’t be wasted playing with two guys who can’t put him in a position to score. He also wouldn’t be hindering the skill of better players by not contributing offensively.

I’m not as smart as Patrick Roy. He’s forgotten more about hockey than I’ll ever know. But the Avs aren’t scoring and aren’t winning right now. So why not give these combinations a chance and see what happens? And I’m not talking about play them for one period and then break them up because the team didn’t score 10 goals. I’m talking about give them a couple of games and practices together to really find their groove. The worst thing that could happen is the Avs continue to not score and continue to lose. Or maybe these combinations will turn things around the Avs won’t continue to disappoint this season.

Sounds like it’s worth it.