Roy Changes Colorado Avalanche Line Combinations


Head coach Patrick Roy is renowned for meddling with Colorado Avalanche line combinations. Considering the Avalanche are, surprisingly, having difficulty with scoring, he’s returned to his meddling ways.

Earlier this year he attempted a new formula, creating scoring duos with a role player on each line. That didn’t exactly pan out, and he returned to his usual top-six — Matt Duchene, Alex Tanguay, Ryan O’Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla.

For awhile he’s tried fitting role players into the top-six again. Actually, putting John Mitchell as a center for Iginla and Landeskog seemed primed to work until Mitchell went down with a leg injury. During the last game, he switched lines for O’Reilly and Iginla.

Well, Patrick Roy is trying a new set of line combinations for the Colorado Avalanche. According to Denver Post writer Mike Chambers, the line combinations for the beginning of the Buffalo Sabres game anyway should go as follows:

Max Talbot-Duchene-MacKinnon

Landeskog-O’Reilly-Daniel Briere


Cody McLeodMarc-Andre ClichePatrick Bordeleau

A couple notes on the line combinations before we look at who’s scratched. Talbot’s a little odd for that top line. Yes, he played for a while on a line with superstar Sidney Crosby, but Roy has him on a line with the two fastest forwards on a fast team. I somehow see him clunking along, trying to catch up.

I’m already in love with the O’Reilly line. Briere is such a steadying influence, and both the youngsters are feeling snake-bitten right now for goals. I especially predict Landeskog to have a big night.

The Mitchell line looks pretty good, too. This is John Mitchell’s… third return from injury? It’s getting hard to keep track, but this is his first game back from the latest injury.

F-4 was pretty standard from last year. However, it’s worth noting that this will be Bordeleau’s first game of the season. He’s been on injured reserve after undergoing back surgery in the summer.

Speaking of players returning, that means a couple guys are healthy scratches for the Buffalo game — Dennis Everberg and Nick Holden. Everberg is a skill player, but he’s been getting his chance in the lineup due to enforcer Bordeleau’s absence. It was a toss-up if Roy would keep the skill guy over the muscle, but… apparently he’d like to see some more physicality to Avalanche hockey.

Nick Holden is having a bit of a tough year. He has struggled at defense, and coach Roy “banished” him to the fourth forward’s line. He actually scored a goal his first night there, but with both Bordeleau and Mitchell returning, it seems Roy has no place for Holden in the forward’s lineup. Since defenseman Brad Stuart has also returned from injury, looks like there’s not much spot in the defensive pairings either:

Erik JohnsonJan Hejda

Tyson BarrieNate Guenin

Brad Stuart-Zach Redmond

Role player Jesse Winchester is on the road trip, but last word was he still suffered from vertigo in crowded places. Coach Roy hasn’t stated when he should return since it depends on those symptoms going away.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov has also gone along for the road trip. Coach Roy is already hinting that he may be returning to the lineup. Unfortunately, it sounds like that means star rookie Calvin Pickard may be sent back to the AHL-affiliate Lake Erie Monsters — Roy said he was exempt from the roster freeze because Pickard was called up on an “emergency basis.”

If Roy does send Pickard back to Lake Erie, it’s actually a vote of confidence. Patrick Roy has stated more than once that he wants to see Pickard develop by playing a lot of games, which won’t happen with a healthy Varlamov in the lineup. Indeed, Roy stated, “Playing a lot was important for my development.”

Considering Patrick Roy’s Hall of Fame career as a goalie, that’s a big vote of confidence for sure.