Good morning, Avalanche fans! Welcome to another edition of the Roy Report! As always, the replay of Roy's 104.3 The Fan interview can be found here and is worth the listen. If the past few weeks have proven anything, it's that his words can be interpreted in many different ways, so get it from the source if you can. However, if you're trapped at work, here's the recap to get you up to speed.
The interview started out with questions about the team's work ethic in the past two games. While Roy was fairly happy with the San Jose game that was much tighter than the final score, he felt that the players didn't provide much of a show during the Edmonton contest. There wasn't much to enjoy, and it's one of the few games this year where he's been unsatisfied with the compete, hard work, and effort of the club.
One has to wonder if the end of this season is finally catching up to the players. Playoffs are a pipe dream at best right now, and there's not much left to fight for. From a fan perspective, those four missed points did us a big favor when it comes to securing a better draft pick, but it's hard to fault Roy for being upset at the lack-luster losses.
Home Record, Injuries, and the Power Play
The Avs record at home this year is 20-15-3, which Roy agreed isn't good enough to make the playoffs. Part of the problem is that the team hasn't been winning the big games at home, particularly against Minny and LA. They've also dropped really winnable matches against the Rangers, Detroit, Montreal and Columbus.
He also feels that the other part of the problem is injuries. He doesn't want to use it as an excuse since it can happen to any team, but he does wonder if any roster can be successful - especially in our conference - when they're missing 8-9 guys each night. Our organizational depth isn't great due to questionable drafting, but he still believes that no team would be able to weather this storm very well. With our Calder winner out for 5 weeks, our top defenseman out for 10, and the use of backups during Varly's injuries, it's made evaluating the overall roster difficult. Unfortunately, it could continue to hurt us next year since McGinn and Winchester are question marks for camp. He brought up how Columbus began winning games when they got healthy, and how well LA (who is already struggling) would do if they lost Quick and Doughty for any decent amount of time. He's very frustrated with the situation, and feels that the team could be a contender if they had better luck in that area.
Later in the interview, our coach also mentioned that the power play has been another topic of concern this year. When a team goes from around 20% conversion to the 10-11% range, that's a lot of goals. It's cost the team games and is something else he'll be evaluating this summer.
All I can do is hope that Roy realizes that it's going to take more than just health to fix this team. We still desperately need an upgrade on defense. Maybe I can buy that if we had McGinn, Winchester, and Bordeleau on forward, it would help us by pushing Cliche/McLeod/Caron/Hamilton/whoever to the press box or to the minors, but even then, this is not a roster that's going to finish with 112 points again. The power play needs help, but that won't solve our biggest problem of keeping the puck out on the other end of the ice. Dropping winnable contests is also going to happen because taking 1 goal games has shown to be unsustainable from year-to-year for every team in the league. Yes, I do wish the Avs had been able to grab a couple more early in the season, but the issues with the team run much deeper than that. Health, tight games, and the PP are all contributing factors to this frustrating year, but not even they make it hard to evaluate the fact that it's the defense that's destroying this team.
The play of the week was Duchene's goal from last night. When asked about what's been up with our favorite #9 this season, Roy said that it's mostly confidence. He's been playing really well lately by winning a lot of faceoffs, scoring goals, leading the rush, and skating well. Roy also said he liked the challenge of playing against Thornton last night. But it's all about confidence.
Yes, Roy, it's about confidence, but it'd also be super nice if he didn't have to drag Mitchell or McLeod around on his line every night. The thing with Duchene that we've known forever is that he needs chemistry with at least one of his wingers to be successful. Mueller, Fleischmann, Parenteau, O'Reilly... all of them complemented Dutchy's game and were the biggest reason why he was able to take over the ice. This year, he's not had that. He works fairly well with Iggy, but he's used to looking to his left for help. That's another area that health isn't going to fix. I don't know if it's going to be a UFA, a roster shuffle, or the draft pick we're getting this year, but a left winger for Matt Duchene needs to be another priority for the team this summer.
To follow up on the injury talk, Vic asked the age-old question: are injuries preventable by better training, or are they just bad luck? Roy leans more to the side of bad luck, but he also believes big players and big teams, especially in this conference, are less likely to be injured than small teams.
Roy also wants his team better mentally prepared next year, but due to the new CBA, he doesn't have much control over what the players do in the offseason. Both he and Casey Bond, our head strength and conditioning coach, stay in contact with the guys over the summer and make suggestions about what to work on, but it's up to the players. For example, if they feel that working out with Crosby's trainer (Andy O'Brien) is the best way to go, there's nothing Roy can do to change that mindset. They'll occasionally ask that players come back to Denver early to be evaluated, like Varly after his ankle injury last year, but that's as much as they can do. However, he doesn't feel that our conditioning was the problem this year.
What the team can do is change training camp. Next year, there won't be any scrimmages during the first 3 days. It's all going to be practicing and player eval to see who will block shots, go into the corners, and bring a high compete level. There will still be the Burgundy and White game, but that's it.
First off, the Avs are almost certainly going to draft a big, fast player this year if they can help it. Roy's become a bit of a broken record on wanting the club to get bigger, so you can almost count on that (for better or worse). And as far as injuries go, he does have a point. We are somewhat easier to push around than the bigger teams of the West, but most of our injuries aren't of the conditioning type. If we had more early season knee, ankle, or groin issues (Varly aside), I'd buy that excuse, but that's not been our problem.
Honesty and Emergency Goalies
Roy finished up the week on a bit more lighthearted notes. He reiterated that he loves the fans and he loves these interviews because they give him a chance to show that the team has a plan, knows where they're going, and are working hard to get there.
The final question was about the situation last week where Boston (even though I'm pretty sure it was actually Florida) had their goaltending coach, a 50-year-old, put on the uniform as an emergency backup. If it ever came to that, would Roy suit up? His answer: "Damn right I would". He's not put on the pads since he retired, but he'll be playing goal for us at the alumni outdoor game. He's already told Sakic that they're going to have a few practices before that contest.
Hmmmm. Patrick Roy, backup goalie. I don't want the injuries to our netminders that would necessitate such a thing, but man oh man, that'd be awesome. I think hockey twitter and MHH would implode. That alone would make it worth it. Good thing the team has Roy unipron monstrosities ready to go in the gift shop. Never hurts to have a few jersey fouls ready to go on the astronomical chance he might eventually wear one, right?