CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Patrick Roy proved on opening night he still is a fierce competitor by nearly shoving a glass partition onto Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.
Friday, he showed he still has that intensity when he held a fiery, impassioned session with the media after his Colorado Avalanche dropped two consecutive games in its playoff series against the Wild.
Roy covered everything from hockey history to the manhood of his team, but the central theme was evident — the first-year coach believes in his players despite their being thoroughly outplayed in Games 3 and 4.
“I’m proud of our team,” Roy said. “I’m extremely proud of them, and I’m not going to throw them under the bus because I’m their partner. I trust our team.”
Getting the team’s momentum back is proving difficult. After winning the first two games at home, Colorado looked lost at Xcel Energy Center — except for goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who single-handedly kept his team in both games.
Game 5 is pivotal for both teams with the series tied 2-2.
At minimum, Colorado must put pucks on net. The Avalanche was outshot 78-34 in St. Paul, managing only 12 shots in Thursday’s Game 4. The Wild has disrupted Colorado’s offensive flow and rendered its power play useless. The Avalanche is 1-for-15 on the power play in the series, and the one goal came on an empty-netter in the closing seconds of Game 2.
“As a power play we have to be in charge of generating momentum if we’re not going to score,” defenseman Erik Johnson said. “That’s clearly an issue that’s been magnified the last two games. It didn’t matter when we won the first two games at home, but those things stand out more when you lose.”
The Avalanche worked on special teams between Games 3 and 4 but still was anemic on the power play Thursday.
Friday, Roy reminded everyone the strides his team has made a year after finishing last in the Western Conference, with 12 players making their postseason debut in this series.
“I love winning, but we need to be patient with our group. This is a young team, this is a team [which] finished 29th last year, this is a huge step and this is a learning process,” Roy said. “When we put our plan together for the playoffs it’s not to go 16-0. How many teams have done that? None? I’m surprised to hear that. I thought there were a hundred teams. The 2-2 doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s how we’re going to bounce back is what I want to see tomorrow.”
Avalanche center Matt Duchene (left knee sprain) was skating well with a few teammates Friday, and although he looked fine, Roy ruled him out for Saturday’s Game 5. He didn’t rule him out for the series.
“We’re happy with where he’s at,” he said. “Is he going to play in this series? We’re not sure yet.”
Roy also said center John Mitchell (head) won’t play. He said there were no other new injuries, which means the shot rookie Nathan MacKinnon took off his foot in the second period Thursday won’t keep him out of the lineup.
Varlamov named finalist for Vezina
Varlamov was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie along with Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop.
Varlamov led the NHL with a franchise-record 41 victories. He led the league in shots faced (2,013) and saves (1,867). He is the first Colorado goalie to be nominated for the Vezina since Roy was the runner-up in 2002.