Obfuscating the offensive game has had an impact on the Avalanche’s success, and it is most often seen in an even-strength shot total tilting the way of an opponent.
“I don’t think it’s because [of] the number of shots we’ve been giving; it’s more of the shots we’re not taking,” Roy said of the situation following Tuesday’s practice.
The sentiment presented has been echoed by his players, who said they agree that simpler times could mean happier times.
“We have a creative team, and sometimes we maybe overcomplicate things,” center Matt Duchene said Wednesday morning. “I think there’s times where we can definitely get more to the net and drive the net and maybe create just some more havoc. Maybe we don’t score, but we can create some zone time. And then those plays we like to make might open up.”
The key to this, according to Duchene, is “knowing when to make a play and knowing when to just keep it simple and create some havoc.”
Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just get the puck on the net and let the game take over.
“We have such good players in here that you look for the perfect play a lot, and sometimes a good play is just putting it on the net and [seeing] what happens,” rear guard Erik Johnson said. “I think you can always shoot more. It sounds simple and cliché, but you’re going to score more the more pucks you put at the net. We can do that a lot more and I think it will help.
“You definitely want quality shots over stuff in the corner and stuff like that, but there’s always a time to put the puck at the net if you don’t have a play.”
Colorado enters Wednesday’s match against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes ranked second in the NHL in power-play conversion (33.3 percent) and fourth in the league in penalty-killing success (88.2 percent), so man-advantage situations are less of a concern than when playing at even strength.
That’s an area where Roy has emphasized a desire to improve.
“Our special-team units are doing really well. It’s our 5-on-5,” he said during his weekly radio show on 104.3 The Fan. “I’d like to see us, 5-on-5, play more [of] a simple game, more [of] a sound game. Keep things pretty simple.
“It doesn’t always have to be pretty.”
Being a speed-oriented team based on a quick transition and a lethal offense, there’s no surprise that the goal is to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
“I don’t think it’s any secret the more time we’re going to spend in the O-zone, the less time we’re going to spend in our zone,” Johnson said. “When we’re possessing the puck and putting pucks at the net, we’re really tough to defend, and in turn we spend way less time in our own zone. So that’s probably the biggest key is getting back to that type of hockey.”
Johnson suggested, based on his experiences, that simply sending more pucks the way of the opposing goaltender can make the Avalanche harder to play against.
“As a defenseman, when guys are shooting from everywhere it causes confusion. And I think, when you realize how tough it is to defend—put a puck on net, you have to turn, see where the puck is, find your guy—so I think, for us to do that it makes a big difference in creating a little bit more offense.”
That’s precisely the kind of thing that Roy said he wants to see.
“This is something we don’t do very well, or we don’t think about doing a lot,” he said Tuesday. “[We’d like to] simplify a bit more our offense, putting more pucks at the net. And I think by the same token you’ll force the other team to defend more. Right now I feel that we’re forcing too many plays on our entries.”
GORMLEY MAKES HIS DEBUT
Defenseman Brandon Gormley will be making his Avalanche debut tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, skating alongside Nick Holden.
|Brandon Gormley |
Having been a healthy scratch for the team’s previous five games, Gormley admitted it’s taken effort and patience to earn a chance to play.
“You’ve just got to practice hard and stay game ready,” he said of what he’s done to impress the coaching staff. “Obviously, as a player you want to be in the lineup, contributing every night, but you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get.
“You’ve just got to compete. You’ve got to compete and force your teammates to be better. Obviously, there’s always people watching, whether it’s the coaches or even your teammates. So you’ve got to prove to everyone that you belong in the lineup.”
Gormley has certainly done that and will get a blank slate as he takes the ice against Carolina.
“I have no expectation, basically. I want him to show what he has and [have] him play a solid game,” Roy said. “It’d be great for him to have a good game.”
For Gormley, that means simply doing what he does.
“I just want to play my game: play well defensively and move the puck well,” the 23-year-old blueliner said. “It’s the strong suit of my game, and [I want to] hopefully create some offense as well.”
Mikko Rantanen—Matt Duchene—Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog—Nathan MacKinnon—Alex Tanguay
Blake Comeau—Carl Soderberg—John Mitchell
Cody McLeod—Mikhail Grigorenko—Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin—Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov—Nate Guenin
Brandon Gormley—Nick Holden
Expected scratches: Brad Stuart, Tyson Barrie.