Patrick Roy’s Plans for the Avs


“Our young guys are learning, and they’re becoming better.” – Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy has a plan. Presumably Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and Kroenke Sports Entertainment are in cahoots, but the plan looks to be Roy’s.

Two months and 25 games into the season, the Avalanche are still trying to reach 500 hockey. As captain Gabriel Landeskog observed, it’s as if they take one step forward and two steps back. And now they’re plagued with injuries.

Coach Roy, of course, was not content with the latest loss, against the Montreal Canadiens at home. He, along with veteran center Daniel Briere, blamed game management. Indeed, in all three of their recent losses, the other team’s game-winning goal came late in the third.

(I don’t know about the rest of the Avs Nation, but I’m pretty tired of paying back last year’s luck.)

Coach Roy pointed out that, when you’re an offense-minded team like the Avs, defensemen are expected to pinch in. And when defensemen pinch in, forwards might have to take over on defense.

The Avs also gave up a lot of takeaways and odd-man rushes. Needless to say, they practiced defending against such situations in practice today.

As the Avs head on a mini road trip before coming home for a three-game home stand, they have to make some changes if they want to become relevant, as veteran Alex Tanguay likes to put it.


The Avs have got to find it. This one step forward, two steps back — that’s great for a country dance, not so fabulous if a team wants to make the playoffs.

Coach Roy states it all boils down to experience:

"“You have to admit it’s pretty entertaining. But at the same time you have to find that fine line between entertaining and winning hockey games and bringing games into overtime. It’s a learning process. It’s something that you learn with time.”"

While it’s true the Avs did go out and get veterans in Briere, Brad Stuart and, especially, Jarome Iginla, that kind of experience can only come from doing.

Winning Culture

More from History

The Colorado Avalanche don’t have it, that habit for winning. After his gold medal experience at the Olympics, center Matt Duchene stated, “I’ve learned how to win.” He was referring to that intangible, perhaps that will to win that separates the greats from the Hall of Famers.

Coach Roy understands that better than most — if legend Peter Forsberg had a will to win, Roy was made of that will in his days as a goalie. Indeed, he once checked himself out of the hospital and played playoff games with an inflamed appendix.

That’s not to say the young core of the Avs are soft — they just don’t fully understand how to consistently push through yet. Landeskog said it, remarking upon that will to “sacrifice the body” and dig deep when it seems there’s nothing left. You see it in Landeskog, who channels his inner Viking on the ice. You see it in Erik Johnson, who takes a horror story of a hit yet only misses one game. (Because he didn’t have a concussion — that’s a different story.) You see it in Robo-Tangs, playing with a broken face.

Roy wants to see it in everyone:

"“It becomes part of your culture learning how to play those games. This is why we’re not there yet. This is why we have things to learn.”"

Up-Coming Games

Funny thing about those five games coming up — they’re all against conference rivals, and four of the five are against division rivals. Every single game essentially counts double toward the playoffs. What one loses in the standings, the other gains two-fold.

In other words, there can be no more of this two steps back business — might as well take a giant leap.

That means the big guns, the top-six, have to step up. We’re not talking their A-game, we’re talking their A+ game, their extra credit game. F3, F4 and the D are meant to be the supporting act, not the main show. It’s time for Iginla and Tanguay to lead their charges into the thick of things.

Ok, I apologize — there are three separate metaphors in that paragraph. However, that indicates how important it is that Duchene, Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O’Reilly have big nights consistently throughout the next five games. It also indicates how important it is that Tanguay continues to play big, and Iginla pushes himself to his limits.

Johnson and Tyson Barrie also have to keep having big games. They are the Avs’ best D-men. And Semyon Varlamov — he was the Avalanche’s MVP last season. He has to become that player again.

Obviously, Patrick Roy, one of the greatest competitors to ever play the game, understands the significance of the up-coming stretch:

"“We can make a good statement for ourselves. We could put ourselves in the picture. “"

They can indeed, but it’s not going to be easy. In the upcoming games, they face Winnipeg twice — once there, once here — plus Nashville, St. Louis and Calgary. Every single team has a better record than the Avs — indeed, Nashville has the best record in the Central Division, St. Louis the second best. They’re all playing better than 500 hockey.

Roy knows his young crew can do it. He knows the players need to learn to win — but he also recognizes that the youngsters are learning. And they’re getting better and better. Indeed, those five wins in the last eight — two or three of them would have been losses in the beginning of the season.

There’s still some hockey yet, Avs Nation, and coach Roy has a plan.