Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy expressed confidence in his current lineup, even though the team is having to fight for a playoff spot without their top two centers.
That said, Colorado has to do without both players for at least the next two games. The organization called up last year’s 10th-overall draft pick, Mikko Rantanen, but that still leaves the roster a little short.
As of right now, the lines are the following:
Now, we all know that head coach Patrick Roy likes to shuffle lines. However, as it stands, those 16 forwards are what the Colorado Avalanche have. Indeed, according the coach Roy’s weekly interview on The Fan, it’s a “very slim chance” that Duchene and MacKinnon join the team on the road trip that starts next Monday.
Patrick Roy isn’t worried, though. While he and GM Joe Sakic didn’t make trade deadline moves specifically to replace Duchene and MacKinnon, increased depth was exactly their aim. With the addition of Shawn Matthias and Mikkel Boedker, the Avalanche feel they have enough depth to withstand the loss short term.
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In fact, coach Roy spoke about both Matthias and Boedker during his interview.He appreciates how Matthias hold the puck, protecting it during play. He’s especially valuable during the penalty kill.
As for Boedker, Roy mentioned his speed again. What’s more, Mikkel has great vision and an accurate shot. Roy said, “He can be a difference-maker for our team.”
The hosts asked coach Roy about the possibility of signing both Matthias and Boekder, who become unrestricted free agents after this season. He stated that he “really likes” both players and it’s his wish to keep both on the team.
In addition to those two newbies, coach Roy mentioned Mikhail Grigorenko several times. Remember at the beginning of the season when it seemed possible that Grigorenko would be the same kind of bust he was with the Buffalo Sabres? Well, Patrick Roy likes what he’s seeing these days from the young player. Likewise, coach Roy appreciates the play of John Mitchell. He acknowledges that, while neither will play as well as the missing centers, he’s “very comfortable” with both as replacements.
Right now, one of the biggest questions is about young Rantanen. He’s got two more games before he burns off a year of his entry-level contract. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but teams have to consider the upcoming expansion draft. If Rantanen burns off a year now, the team will either have to protect or expose him when the expansion happens.
Coach Roy admits that is on his mind. However, he says the ultimate decision will come based on how Rantanen plays in the next two games. If the Colorado Avalanche thinks he’s a benefit to the team right now, they’ll consider keeping him. However, the plan was always for him to play a full year at the minors to gain that valuable experience, and that’s still Patrick Roy’s preference.
Ultimately, head coach Patrick Roy is very confident in his lineup. He sees the key to the upcoming games is in maintaining focus. The core will determine if the Colorado Avalanche make the playoffs or not — they can’t take even a single shift for granted.
I rarely leave the final thoughts on my posts to someone else, but here’s the gospel according to Patrick Roy: “We’re a team that can do a lot of damage in the post season.”
He’s confident they can make that push.