While Patrick Roy wasn't pleased with his offense only scoring once against the Coyotes, the Avalanche head coach was satisfied with how his club played on defense.
"We are playing so well defensively right now," Roy said. "We're not giving much. I think the last three games we have given less than 10 scoring chances or close to that. This is very positive."
The 3-1 final score in favor of Phoenix on Tuesday night might seem to say otherwise, but Colorado had a strong defensive game and it was just the Coyotes taking advantage of the scoring chances they had.
Phoenix's three goals came on shots that any goaltender in the league would have had trouble stopping. The Coyotes' first came on a quick pass from the slot to the left of the crease for a tap-in that just missed the right pad of Semyon Varlamov and slid across the goal line. The last two were on rebounds that caromed off to the side of Varlamov, leaving the Avs netminder little chance to get over to the other side fast enough to cover the open net.
Despite playing well for most of the game, the Avs players said they could have been a lot better on defense during those goals and helped their goaltender out more.
"A couple of mental lapses that we could fix ourselves," Avalanche center Paul Stastny said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, and they capitalized on those chances. That's stuff we shouldn’t be giving up, and we have to be better on that and that's something we can fix."
Varlamov did his part to keep Colorado in striking distances as he made some key stops, especially in the latter half of the contest. He finished with 22 saves on 25 shots.
"Varly made some good saves at some good moments for us as well," Roy said. "I like that he stayed focus in his game, and in the third he gave us a chance to comeback."
The Avalanche had a strong start to the game and had several scoring chances in the opening minutes, but the team couldn't capitalize and Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss was solid in the crease with 11 saves in the first 20 minutes and 29 overall.
"We just couldn't get that goal that could have been a difference maker tonight," Roy said.
BETTER LUCKY THAN NOT
It wasn't the prettiest goal, but Avalanche forward Patrick Bordeleau will take it.
With 5:32 left in the second period, Bordeleau was pressing behind the Phoenix net and forced a bad pass by a Coyotes defenseman. The puck deflected off the 6-foot-6 winger and off the back of goaltender Thomas Greiss before it settled in the back of the net.
At the time, the goal cut the Avalanche's deficit in half, making it a 2-1 game.
The tally was Bordeleau's career-high fourth of the season and his first since Nov. 27 against St. Louis.
Alex Tanguay and Ryan Wilson have been on injured reserve since the first full week of November, and when Colorado left for Edmonton last week it was thought that both might be able to play at some point this week.
However, Roy revealed Tuesday morning that only Wilson remains on that timetable.
Tanguay, who injured his knee Nov. 2 against Montreal and was placed on IR on Nov. 6, has also developed a hip injury, and that’s flared on him as his knee has healed. Roy said Tanguay is out indefinitely.
“He’s not doing well,” Roy said after morning skate. “It’s a bit of a setback. The knee is not the thing that bothers him the most right now; it’s the hip. It’s been a concern since the start of his injury. We were hoping that things would turn the corner, but I guess it’s not. He’ll be out indefinitely, without a doubt.”
The news was better regarding Wilson (back) and Jan Hejda, who injured his knee last week versus the Oilers. Wilson, who has missed the last 15 games, is on schedule and could play in the Avs’ Saturday night home game against Minnesota, and Hejda might do the same.
“Hopefully, Wilson will play Saturday here against [Minnesota]—that’s the objective,” Roy said. “We’ll see how it goes [Wednesday] at practice. We’re not going to bring him on the road [Thursday at Winnipeg]. We’ll keep him here, do some off-ice conditioning with [team strength and conditioning coach] Casey [Bond], and we’ll see.
“Hejda will start skating [Wednesday], we’ll see after that. He seems to feel already very good, and hopefully he’ll be back also Saturday against ‘Minny.’ But we’re not going to jump the gun on that one.”
Hejda's recovery of his knee sprain is bit ahead of schedule. The original diagnosis had him out 10-14 days.