CENTENNIAL, Colo.— First game. A loss to a division opponent. Doesn't matter. Now it's up to the team to respond.
That was the message from Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy on Friday morning at Family Sports Center as the team was looking to remove the bad taste from the previous night's season-opening 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.
"After the game, no one was very happy with our performance," Roy said. "We didn't compete the way we wanted, but I think today the guys know that. They are smart players, and they understand that in order for us to be successful like we were last year we have to be better in that area of the game."
The Avs won't have to wait long for a chance to redeem themselves as they'll host the same Wild team on Saturday night in their home opener at Pepsi Center.
"We just want to rebound," Matt Duchene said. "It was a clinic for them last night. They absolutely dominated us. They probably deserved to beat us 8-0. Varly made some big saves for us. He got absolutely shelled, and Reto [Berra] played great in the third. We want to come out and give our fans a good show tomorrow night. We want to show that last night was a fluke.
"We want to try and turn the tables."
Despite Roy and his players being disappointed with how they opened the season, there doesn't seem to be any panic with the club. The proof was in the team's activities for the day.
After a loss like that, people might think the Avs went hard on the ice, working on drills and systems and doing a bag skate. That wasn't the case as Roy kept with his schedule of having the players do a good off-ice workout and go over game video with the coaching staff.
"We're certainly not going to panic over it, but we're going to talk about it," Roy said. "That is totally different. There are things that we can't let go, and we'll certainly address those things. It's one game. You always want to use a loss to make you a better team, and I hope yesterday will make us a better team."
Captain Gabriel Landeskog said the process of the team learning from the loss started during the team's flight back from the Twin Cities.
"Like every loss, it is a lot more quiet, but last night it was more of guys talking with each other on the plane and chitchatting of what really happened, and what we're going to do to get better," Landeskog said. "A lot of good feedback from the guys. We were having some good discussions on the plane and even this morning in the gym. I think that is important. Sure everybody has the right to be pissed off and disappointed, but everybody has got to be able to step back and look at what we really did and didn't do and what we need to do to be a better team."
Only one player was on the ice on Friday, and it was for good reason as assistant coach Tim Army was running an individual practice with John Mitchell. The Avs center had missed all of training camp and the preseason with a head injury (migraines), but he had been participating in a few non-contact drills with his teammates recently.
Roy did not give a timetable for Mitchell's return to the lineup.
There will be a bit of a line shakeup for the Avs' home opener after Roy went through several different line combinations during the game in Minnesota to see if anything would work. Roy said he is thinking about using the same lines he began training camp with—moving Nathan MacKinnon from right wing back to center with wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay.
The move of MacKinnon means Ryan O'Reilly returns to the left wing slot on a Duchene-centered line that also features Jarome Iginla on the right side.
"It doesn't matter who I play with. We have so many great players that I'm fortunate to play with any of them," Duchene said. "I'm sure things will be tossed around numerous times during the year like they always are. Obviously, Factor (Ryan O'Reilly) and I have some familiarity. We had some decent chances last night."
Semyon Varlamov will once again get the start in net for the Avalanche, but Roy will change his defensive lineup. The Colorado coach said Ryan Wilson would be with Jan Hejda on the third defensive pairing, replacing Nate Guenin.
After tomorrow's home opener, the Avs go on the road for four games in the east before returning to Pepsi Center on Oct. 21 against the Florida Panthers. Looking to get into the win column, a good effort against the Wild could go a long way for the Avalanche in building momentum for that first road trip of the season.
"We feel confident about our team that if we put in the work, we'll give ourselves a chance to get points every night," Tanguay said. "Certainly tomorrow is one of those games for us. We know what happened yesterday, we are well aware of that. We'll remember, and I'm sure we'll come out with a much better effort."
Ryan O'Reilly — Matt Duchene — Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Alex Tanguay
Jamie McGinn — Daniel Briere — Maxime Talbot
Cody McLeod — Marc-Andre Cliche — Dennis Everberg
Brad Stuart — Erik Johnson
Nick Holden — Tyson Barrie
Jan Hejda — Ryan Wilson
Nate Guenin, Zach Redmond, Jesse Winchester (head injury).