Every Thursday at 8 AM, Patrick Roy joins the radio morning show on 104.3 The Fan in Denver. If you aren't tuning in, you're missing out on what has become the best insider look on the Avs. Replays are always available here, but for those of you at work, here's a rundown of some of the key points discussed today.
The first half of the interview today was mostly just catching up. Roy talked about the team's play in the last 14 games and what that means for our playoff picture, and what the upcoming road trips spanning 8 of our next 10 games could bring. Talk then segwayed into NHL scheduling decisions. Roy was not pleased with the fact that we had an unnecessary four day break followed by a back-to-back. Evidently, the Coyotes are in town and haven't played since Monday, and at the end of the year, staying fresh is important to success. He was careful to not frame this as an excuse - obviously the team still needs to win these games - but he did say that the second objective after getting the W would be to keep shots low so Varly can play in both contests.
This isn't the first time Roy has called out the schedule makers. The current set is the second of three back-to-backs in the month of March, so it's something he's mentioned over the past few interviews. However, his comments about Berra were even more interesting and further emphasized how little faith he has in his backup. It's to the point where a tired netminder with a chronic groin issue has become a better option than a rested, healthy goalie. How much do you want to bet he's regretting that contract extension right now?
They then wrapped up the half with Roy confirming that the recent play of the team is what he had hoped for all season. He also mentioned that the humility and desperation were missing at the beginning of the year, and he called it a "good learning experience" for both the coaches and the players. But let's be real - he was pretty upset with our start at the beginning of the year as well. I really doubt the coaches were the problem there, but in the interest of his partnership with the players, publicly including staff in the blame was probably a smart move. EJ is also expected to play soon, probably during the Canadian swing.
Next, we get the play of the week, which was Tanguay's goal from behind the goal line.
"That's why we've been saying to our players, hey, a shot on net is a shot on net. You always have a chance to score if you put it on net, and there's always the rebound for the other guys." -Patrick Roy
It's amazing how much his tone has changed from the beginning of they year when it comes to shots. Gone is preaching about quality chances; now, Roy is firmly on the "shoot the puck" train. It's sometimes easy to forget that he's only a sophomore at the NHL level when it comes to coaching. He's still learning and figuring out what works and what doesn't, and his adaptability has been one of the most under talked about aspects of this year. The Avs as a whole still haven't fully latched onto advanced stats, but they certainly aren't ignoring them or their message anymore either.
Talk then shifted to Tyson Barrie and the fact that if he has at least 2 assists in a game, the Avs are undefeated. Roy's not worried about his offense at all, but he has really been impressed with how much better Barrie's managing his game, both defensively and understanding when to jump into the rush. Roy also talked about how defense was such a critical component to earning a Top 4 role on this team and keeping ice time high. I have to wonder what this means for Redmond and Elliott. If they want a consistent spot on this team, they're going to have to impress Roy on defense, not offense. Is that in their game?
Next up were text questions, and this is where things got interesting. The first question was about Joey Hishon. At training camp, Roy returned him to the minors not because of his offense, but because his defense wasn't there yet. It appears that even forwards need to impress the coach with their D if they want to stick. Anyway, after his first game back up, Roy was actually happy with him, but the injury derailed playing him further. When he comes back, it sounds like he'll get his chances.
Talk then shifted to the power play and where Hishon might fit. From the response, Roy sees his power play as five positions: net, halfwall, high slot, goal line, and point. I got the sense that Roy would love to find an upgrade or two for standing in front of the net, but Hishon isn't a great fit there. Instead, he's in competition with Duchene and O'Reilly for the halfwall position. He might get some time here and there, but I doubt it will be much.
Dario then asked about Duncan Siemens since every other 1st round D-man from that draft has already hit the NHL. Roy admitted that he's been hurt a lot, which has prevented some call-up opportunities, and he hasn't developed as quickly as the team was hoping. He's behind Elliott and formerly Stollery, and he's currently 3rd or 4th among defensemen in the minors (although I'm not quite sure if he just means LEM or all prospects, Bigras and Geertsen included). With that said, Roy's not concerned and seems very okay with giving him more time to develop if he keeps making progress.
The last question went more in depth into what happened during the beginning of the season. Roy put a good amount of the blame on himself as the person who put the camp together, and he mentioned how he doesn't want to play as many pre-season games or scrimmages next year. He wants more practice time, especially when there are a lot of new players on the team. He also talked about getting the right humble mindset from the beginning, and he didn't quite point fingers, but it was clear that he was not happy with how the players were thinking at the start of the year. They dropped games that could have easily put us in the playoffs right now.
Overall, the interview wasn't quite as strong as it has been in the past couple weeks, but there's certainly plenty to chew on here. What did you take away from it?