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Patrick Roy’s biggest challenge as an NHL coach is upon him

Apr 25, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

Patrick Roy AP

Things were looking so good for the Colorado Avalanche.

And then they boarded their flight to Minnesota.

Just to recap all things that went wrong for the Avs in Games 3 and 4:

— They lost both of them.
— They only scored once.
— They were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin, 78-34.
— They lost Tyson Barrie for the series and beyond.

And how’s that sitting with them?

“Hanging around the locker room after the game,” wrote the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater last night, “I got the sense that this team is flustered, more than I have at any point on the season.”

This is the adversity the young Avs were bound to run into at some point in the postseason. The good news is, they still have home-ice advantage, and they’re still getting great goaltending from Semyon Varlamov.

“When we have the type of performance that we have from our goaltender, there’s no reason for us to not believe in ourselves, coming back home,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said.

For Roy, the leading candidate to be named coach of the year, preparing his team for Saturday’s Game 5 will be his biggest challenge to date as an NHL bench boss. If the Avs are down mentally, he’ll need to get them back up. And that might not be easy after they were so thoroughly dominated for two straight games.

Roy will also need to figure a way to get his young guns going again. Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals in Games 1 and 2. Only Ryan O’Reilly managed to score in Minnesota.

Yes, the Avs will have last change at home, which will help. But they won’t have Ilya Bryzgalov to shoot on. Since taking over the goaltending in Game 2, rookie Darcy Kuemper has stopped 47 of 48 shots for the Wild.

“We’re still not testing this goalie enough. We’re making him look good by taking shots from the outside and nobody being in front,” Landeskog said.

All throughout the regular season, there were those who predicted a Colorado collapse. Yet the Avs kept finding ways to win, to the point it became their mantra:


Now, again, with all sorts of so-called experts predicting their demise, they have an opportunity to just find a way.

  1. lonespeed - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    If this is measured as a career ‘biggest challenge’ then it’s not much of a coaching career.

    • thailer35 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      First year as an NHL coach, coaching a young team in the first round of the playoffs after they had the first overall pick in the most recent draft? An absolute walk in the park.

      You’re clearly more qualified for the job, lonespeed.

      • lbeezyse - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        Being a Wild fan, I currently hate the Avs. With that said, I like Roy as a coach. I think he is going to be a great coach. What he did with a young team this year was simply amazing. From #1 pick to 2nd seed in the tough West is phenomenal. He’s a ballsy coach who is not afraid to take risks. I hope Yeo learns a few things from him this series.

      • purpleguy - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        I’m with Ibeez. As a fan of the opposing team, I haven’t seen a single thing not to like about Roy as a coach — from the way he’s handled his young team, to working through injuries, to developing a system that works with his players , to media communication — even to the way he rips down the divider between the opposing team’s coach.

    • mp1131211 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      He’s been there 1 year as took over a team that finished at the bottom last year. If you just started watching hockey, might want to can the sarcasm for a while.

    • tru2joelu4eva - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      this is one of the worst comments i’ve ever read on this website

    • tved12 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      This is coming from a Wild fan lonespeed, you’re an idiot.

      It’s his first year, you can only have so many challenges, and I would propose that each game he goes further into the playoffs will be his “biggest challenge.”

      Your comment would only make sense if this guy was past his 3rd year or so.

    • joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Hmm! In his first year in the NHL since he retired from playing he brought the Avs from 29th overall to 3rd, and only 5 points behind the #1 spot. You’re right, lonespeed, only 1 year is it not much of a coaching career with respect to time in the NHL, but it is a dang impactful one.

      Though technically correct, the head should have read; “Patrick Roy’s biggest challenge this year as an NHL coach is upon him”

      potato, potatoe….. either way it’s s a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial blah blah blah….

  2. lbeezyse - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Landeskog’s comment is true. They are making Kuemper look good with outside shots and no traffic. But he conveniently forgets the part about the Wild’s smothering defense. The Avs haven’t been able to cross the neutral zone with #’s and speed. The Wild have tailored their style to stop the Avs offense from gaining momentum. Roy needs to change something up because he is now being outcoached by Yeo. Last change, blah blah. It didn’t matter last night as line’s 1-2 matched up against all of the Wilds lines. I’d still rather not see Heatley and Brodz on the ice with McKinnon, Stats, and Lands though, but they held their own. People quickly forget that Parise and Granlund are two of the better two way players in the game. Koivu and Coyle aren’t slouches either. The Wild have simply adapted to the Lanches breakout and figured out a way to keep the shots to the outside. The Wild are simply the deeper team this year. Without Varly the Avs aren’t in the same position they are now. We’ll see how he fairs next year.

    • joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Agreed! Very good comment. Indeed! The Wild d system has taken away time and space in the neutral zone preventing the Avs from picking up speed and beating the d at the blue line. As you said, the Wild d system in their zone is cordoning off the middle of the ice making it difficult for the Avs to go to the net.

  3. strictlythedanks - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Wild have been absolutely taking it to them…..perhaps the most dominant play from one team so far in the playoffs

    • tved12 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Other than what the Sharks did to the Kings in the first 3 games.

    • avscup - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      Really? This series is 2-2! Montreal swept the Lightning!

  4. youngs79 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    The change in momentum has more to do with the Wild’s coaching staff making adjustments. Listen, anyone who doesn’t think the Avs have been outplayed, hasn’t been watching. The Wild has clearly outplayed them in 3 of the 4 games. This is more about adjustments for and one’s not made by a rookie head coach.

  5. hockeyflow33 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Even if they lose the next two games I’d have a hard time believing someone who pretended this year wasn’t an absolute success for the Avs

    • lbeezyse - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      I agree. No one this time of year last year thought the Avs would even sniff the playoffs. Anything less than making the 2nd round I feel is a failure for the Wild. The pieces are in place now for them to continue an upward trend.

  6. bigben1513 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Making Kemps look good? they only had 12 shots last night and 46 in a 2 1/2 game span the wild had that many shots in game 3. where is the high flying offense I hear so much about?

    • lordfletcher - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      to be fair, they are missing their top scorer.

      Right now the Avs are limited to one scoring line, when or if Matt comes back, they have two. Huge difference. Imagine the Wild without Granlund at this point.

      – Wild fan who knows you have to beat Colorado in game 5 and not let Matt enter this series!!!!

  7. drupac87 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    There are no adjustments that Roy can make. Maybe if Berrie didn’t get rolled up, they’d manage 13 shots in game 3?

    • joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      I don’t agree with you. Here’s why. Getting only 12 shots on net is obviously not good, but it’s just as bad giving up 32 shots. Especially when you only get 12 on net. For starters the Avs may have to cut back on run-and-gun hockey, and play more of a chip and chase, which I don’t like, but sometimes necessary if the opposing team is clogging up the neutral zone. Avs will have to play a more patient game by playing better in all 3 zones. Wait for their chances, try to create turnovers with a strong forecheck, and take advantage of those turnovers.

      I’m sure Roy will try something, but will it work. Like I said, I believe they have to tighten up their d, and be more foxlike as opposed to rabbits.

      • slickvb82 - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        The Avs have no D, why do you think Varlamov faced the amount of shots he did this year? The numbers are astounding in comparison to other starting goalies. This Avs team is good, no doubt. But lets be real here, the main reason they are where they are is Varlamov. The Wild is a superior all around team.

      • joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        To say the Wild is a superior all around team is an exaggeration.

        Avs have no d men, or Avs have no d system? As I wrote, the Avs have to play a tighter game. Yes! Varlamov faced the most shots than any other goalie in less games. How many of these were scoring chances? idk… and it no longer matters. What matters now is that they adjust.

        Both teams are even at 5 on 5 Goals for/Against Ratio
        P% Col is 3 Minn is 11
        Goals per game Col is 3 Minn is 24
        GA/per game Minn is 7 Col is 15
        PP% Col is 5 Minn 16
        PK% 24 Minn 27
        Shots per game Col 20 Minn is 29
        SA/per game Minn 5 Col is 25

  8. hardkor07mn - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Dam Joey, for once I actually agree with you! GO WILD!!!

    • joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Dang! I’m on a role. You’re the second one today that agrees with one of my comments. As I wrote early, I guess all it takes to get positive feedback is to be myself as opposed to my persona. As an impartial observer I hope the series will go to 7 games. Hockey candy for a hockey fan. Go Wild! Go Avs!

      • lbeezyse - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        Where is the hostility and trash talk? This doesn’t seem right. Might have to pop over to ESPN to see what the trolls have to say.

        It’s just too civil here today.

        Kings suck and D. Brown is a cheap MF. There whoooaaa.

  9. hanspard - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I’m far from sold on Roy as a coach. He does a nice job of amping up that young team, but there’s too much Torterella/Keenan in him to make me think he’s for real. I think his act will wear out in a hurry.

  10. pariserules - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    The last 2 games have really shown the Wild’s strengths and the Av’s weakness… DEPTH AND EXPERIENCE. The Wild have completely outplayed and out coached the Avs 3 of the 4 games and even the second game in the series may have gone the other way had the Wild made a change in goal earlier in that game. Matching up Haula with MacKinnon has really changes the rookies play due to the fact that Haula has the speed to stick with him the few times he has had some open ice. lack of space has totally neutalized his speed That being said the gap control is what has really shut down the Avs offense and the Wild have 4 strong lines as apposed to the Avs 2. Defense is the other area where the Wild are much deeper. It is too bad that the Avs lost Barrie because he did some things that no one else on the Avs D can do. I do have to say that after watching the Cooke hit over and over even though I believe Barrie got injured before the hit, Cooke hit was a dirty hit in that he had his knee out long before Barrie tried to avoid him. Barrie being there would not be enough to change the last 2 games though. And Varlamov cannot carry this team to series win. The Wild will win in 7 and it just might be 6 if Kuemper gets hot. I say that because Kuemper has let in only one goal but it was soft and so he really has not had to do too much up to this point. There is no way the Avs win this series being outshot 3 to 1 every game.

    • drhockeysm7 - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      I agree with almost everything. Kuemper has been very solid, he stopped MacKinnon point blank, high glove, right when he entered Game 2 and saved all 14 shots he faced in the rest of that game.

      Game 3, shutout, enough said.

      Game 4, that goal was not soft, watch the replay… Incredible tip by Suter through the legs. Otherwise, another shutout.

      I agree he hasn’t faced much for shots, but he also had a great save against O’Reilly in the waning moments of game 4 on the PK. The kid is confident and getting better every day, he is absolutely the future of this franchise’s goaltending and they have a couple excellent supporting backups too. Lets not forget Kuemper was the WHL PLAYER of the year, in his last year, not just goalie of the year. He is showing that he belongs.

      • slickvb82 - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        Not to mention facing 12 shots/being that unengaged in the game is actually a tougher game to play.

  11. soro17 - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I was puzzled watching the Avs all season. How did they keep winning? When will they be found out? They just aren’t very good. If losing Tyson Barrie is a death blow, that says something. Hyping him up to be the second coming of Paul Coffey is ridiculous. The Wild were puzzling for the opposite reason – they are clearly better than their record and it is now showing.

  12. zinger99 - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Dominik Hasek couldn’t carry Patrick Roy’s jock! Just thought I’d throw that in…

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