While many people would like to forget Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy is using it as a motivator.
“We need to bounce back. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Roy said during his pregame press conference on Saturday morning. “How many times did we mention the first year [that] we need to be even-keeled? We’re going to have to do that tonight.”
Sticking to the organizational philosophy instilled during his first season as Colorado’s bench manager, Roy said he wants that level-headed approach to remain a core value of the club during the 2015-16 campaign.
“I am very curious to see how we’re going to play tonight, and how we’re going to step on the ice for the start of the game,” he said. “It will be a good indication. The key for me is, I want to see how we’re going to bounce back after that game.”
There may be no better team to rebound against than the Dallas Stars.
The Avs went 5-0 versus Dallas last year, sweeping the division opponent for the first time since the franchise moved to Denver. On top of that, the Avalanche is 9-1-0 against the Stars over the past two seasons and has defeated the club six straight times at Pepsi Center.
That doesn’t mean the going will be easy. Dallas is another high-powered, offensive team that certainly improved over the offseason. The club added veteran forward Patrick Sharp to accompany a multi-faceted scoring threat highlighted by Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza, rear guard Johnny Oduya to bolster the defensive unit and experienced netminder Antti Niemi to boost the team’s goaltending.
“It’s a team that’s playing really well,” Roy said. “They won their first game 3-0 against Pittsburgh. They have a lot of skill upfront. It will be a good test for our team. Obviously, the line of Seguin and Benn is going to be a line that we have to be sharp against. Other than this, it’s a team that’s probably going to come here with a lot of confidence.”
So how does the Avalanche have success against the team from Texas?
“I think it’s just being committed to playing at both ends of the ice,” left wing Blake Comeau said. “They’ve got a lot of talent. They’ve got some guys that can put the puck in the net. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re tracking hard, taking care of the puck, good game management and just basically not giving them anything easy. Try to play a physical game.
“I think everyone knows the kind of talent we have on this team. It’s just a matter of getting to those hard to play areas… that compete level, second and third efforts. A lot of goals you see around the league, there’s not too many tic-tac-toes anymore. It’s a lot of those tip-ins, rebounds, just getting to those greasy areas. We had some success with that last game and we’ve got to keep doing that.”
Colorado will look to lean heavily on its roster depth, utilizing each and every line to maximize the impact out on the ice. This includes working young forwards Mikko Rantanen and Borna Rendulic back into the mix. Both players saw their ice time diminish on Thursday as the energy line of Cody McLeod, John Mitchell and Jack Skille was playing well.
According to Roy, the plan is to ease Rantanen and Rendulic into things, but it requires both skaters being reliable when in play.
“It’s just a matter of trust. They’ve got to earn my trust,” Roy said. “The more they’re going to play, the more they’re going to earn my trust and the more comfortable I’m going to be to put them on the ice.”
The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT.
There will be “no change” in the Avalanche lineup tonight, according to Patrick Roy.
The pairings on both offense and defense, as well as the starting netminder, will be the same as they were on Thursday:
Blake Comeau—Matt Duchene—Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog—Nathan MacKinnon—Alex Tanguay
Mikko Rantanen—Carl Soderberg—Borna Rendulic
Cody McLeod—John Mitchell—Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin—Erik Johnson
Nate Guenin—Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov—Nick Holden
Scratches: Brandon Gormley, Mikhail Grigorenko and Brad Stuart