DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can tie a franchise record for consecutive wins to begin a season (seven) with a victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night at Pepsi Center. The Quebec Nordiques began the 1985-86 season with a 7-0-0 record.
But Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Thursday morning he wants his players to remain "humble" and to focus more on what they need to do against the Red Wings rather than be concerned about the record.
"I'm saying to the players every day, let's stay humble," he said. "We want them to be humble, we want them to take it one day at a time. When we met Ray Bourque in Boston (last week before the Avalanche's 2-0 win against the Bruins), Ray said, why not us? Those have been the words we've been using, why not another win tonight? We certainly want to focus on things we control, and what we control is how we're going to prepare ourselves tonight."
The once-fierce rivalry between the teams has disappeared over time with player changes and the fact the Avalanche have fallen from their elite status of the mid-1990s and early 2000s while the Red Wings have remained strong.
"I see excitement in the media, but for us we don't look at ourselves in their position right now," Roy said. "We've missed the playoffs four of the past five years. We have to regain that, the respect of other teams. We're a long way before we're getting to where the Red Wings are. It's amazing what they've been doing over the years. They've been there every year."
An Avalanche victory also would give Roy an NHL-record seven consecutive wins to begin a coaching career. He shares the mark with Mario Tremblay, who did it with the Montreal Canadiens from Oct. 21-31 in 1995 when Roy was in goal. Tremblay took over as coach after the Canadiens lost their first five games.
Less than two months later, on Dec. 2, 1995, the wheels were set in motion for Roy's arrival in Denver when Tremblay didn't replace Roy until after he allowed nine goals in an eventual 11-1 loss to the Red Wings at the Montreal Forum. Roy stormed past Tremblay on the bench and told then-team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting nearby, that he had played his last game for the Canadiens.
Roy said the personal record isn't that important to him, but Avalanche players would like nothing better than to help him pass Tremblay.
"It'd be great," center Matt Duchene said. "He'd have that record over Mario Tremblay, which is pretty funny, very ironic. It'd be great to get it done for him. For ourselves too. It'd be great to go to 7-0."
Roy has said he admires Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock for the manner in which they have kept the team among the League's best.
"They certainly deserve a lot of credit for what they've been doing for a long time," Roy said. "They've got a great GM; Ken Holland has been doing a super job there. Babcock is a really good coach. They draft well. They brought in [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk and all those guys. They should be proud of what they've been doing."
Babcock expressed concern about the Avalanche's youth and speed.
"They go very fast," he said. "Two years ago they out-skated us. They had a bunch of injuries last year. This year, they've got more guys and they keep adding good players. The kid [No. 1 draft pick Nathan MacKinnon] looks like he's going to be a star very quickly. They have a good-looking team."
The game Thursday will feature two red-hot goalies in the Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov and the Red Wings' Jonas Gustavsson, who will start his third consecutive game while Jimmy Howard recovers from a bruised left hand. Howard is expected to start Saturday in Phoenix.
Varlamov has posted a 5-0 record with a 1.20 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. Gustavsson is 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .955 save percentage.
Here are the projected lineups for Thursday's game:
Injured: Patrick Eaves (knee, ankle)