TORONTO – A hockey team so often takes on the image of its coach, and the Colorado Avalanche are no different.
Of course that doesn’t mean Avalanche players play on the edge with their emotions boiling over. Quite the contrary, as Patrick Roy’s ability to stay calm behind the bench is sometimes exactly what’s needed.
In Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Roy didn’t have an outburst, didn’t question a borderline call and just let his hard-working players take the spotlight as they remained undefeated early in the regular season.
“Patrick’s very well-detailed,” said defenceman Cory Sarich, who scored his first goal in 65 NHL games. “It’s amazing how many things he sees within the game. He notices a lot of the little things going on, so maybe that’s what helps keep him calm back there. I think he demands from us, first and foremost, that we’re working hard, and as long as we’re doing that, he’s going to let us fight through some mistakes and let us make some adjustments out there on the fly.”
Sarich didn’t like the Avalanche’s start, but Roy did. No yelling and screaming was necessary as Colorado had some quality chances early and often against Jonathan Bernier. If not for some impressive saves among the Leafs goaltender’s 31 stops, the Avalanche could have easily put this one away earlier.
It also could’ve been different if officials blew the whistle before Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul scored after goaltender Semyon Varlamov looked to have the puck covered. Varlamov knew he didn’t, and Roy didn’t pitch a fit.
“You’re asking me to criticize the referee,” he said. “They made the call that they thought it was the right call. We live with that.”
Roy could also live with his team not breaking things open. He was more than happy to see a grinding victory capped off by a strong penalty kill in the third period.
“We were resilient,” Roy said. “This is what our team is all about right now: Everybody is chipping in. Last game it was (Patrick) Bordeleau that had the winning goal. Tonight Sarich tied it and it was a great effort by (P.A.) Parenteau driving the net on that second goal. Overall, it’s a team effort and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Roy makes no secret of what’s looking for out of his players. Centre Matt Duchene said earlier Tuesday that the coach-team relationship was “more of a partnership.”
“We all feel like it’s within our control where before we didn’t really know what was going on sometimes, just in terms of stuff in the (locker) room,” he said. “It’s hard to describe. It’s just more of a winning feeling.”
That winning feeling continued with a third straight victory. Sarich’s goal and the play of he and defensive partner Andre Benoit were noticeable, but Roy also offered unprompted praise of Erik Johnson, who played a team-high 23:13.
Perhaps that attention to detail is part of the reason why the Avalanche are 3-0 going into Thursday’s game at the also-undefeated Boston Bruins. Way beyond the bench, things are going well for Colorado.
“Everybody is playing hard, everybody’s back-checking, everybody’s playing good defence,” Roy said “That’s the thing that I appreciate the most from our team is on our tracking, we find our assignment and we’re at the right place, which is great.”
Roy deserves some credit for putting players in spots to be successful, too. As a result, the Avalanche played with confidence in Toronto.
“We stuck with it like we needed to,” Sarich said. “We’ve done some good things and we’ve got some trust in each other and belief in each other.”