Oct 24, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy (C) looks on from behind the bench in the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy received a lot or credit, rightfully so, for his patient approach last season. He understood that he had a young team and riding them too hard was only going to put more pressure on them. The results speak for themselves as the Avalanche surprised everyone by winning the Central Division.
However that was last season and that same approach is no longer working. As a player Roy was known as a fiery competitor whose temper sometimes got the better of him. The time has come for his players to see that side of their head coach, both in practice and even in the media.
To date, Roy has shown a great deal of patience with his team’s slow start. Roy has consistently gone out of his way at press conferences to praise the effort of the players and has even put a positive spin on some of the recent overtime losses. His point being that a point is better than no points. While I appreciate his positive approach, it’s not working and Roy must try something else.
The Avalanche are in real danger of falling too far behind in the Western Conference playoff race. I understand it’s only the end of October but the days of making the playoffs with 90 points are long gone. If the Avalanche don’t start accumulating points in bunches, then they are simply going to be too far behind to contend after the first of the year.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know what the players are thinking or feeling but I can make some assumptions based on what I’m seeing. The players are too comfortable, too happy with what they accomplished last season and it shows. Maybe they believed that the next step would simply happen automatically and the hard work was over. They’re wrong and Roy must point it out, with authority.
What does that mean? Maybe it means benching a star or two to prove a point, maybe it means calling out some players during practice or games. I’ve never been in favor of calling out a single player in through the media but I do believe that Roy could call out the team as a whole to make a point.
The defensive effort to this point in the season has been pathetic, and was never more apparent than in the loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. If it had not been for goalie Semyon Varlamov and his stellar play, the Sharks would have won 6-2. Somehow Varlamov made 49 saves and got the game to overtime which gave the Avalanche a point from a game that they had no business being in.
Time and time again, the Avalanche are allowing their opponents to roam in front of the net without consequence. No one is putting a body on them and no one is clearing the puck after the initial shot. There was one sequence on Tuesday night where I thought I was watching a pee-wee game. There were three Avalanche players chasing the puck around while the Sharks were just passing it around. Varlamov made a huge save to bail them out, again but the defense the effort on that play was flat out embarrassing.
The Avalanche won games last season, not because they were more talented than other teams but because they out worked them. They have lost that mentality through the first month of the season and now it is up to Roy to get it back.
Roy was great last season in building confidence in his young team, but now that same team needs a kick in the behind. The players have gotten too comfortable and Roy must make them uncomfortable before it is too late.