Roy says time has come for Lalime, Sens

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 4:28 PM ET

 TORONTO -- The greatest money goalie of all time thinks Patrick Lalime can help the Senators cash in this spring.

 Patrick Roy just thinks it's time Lalime's teammates repay a debt.

  "For many years in the playoffs, Ottawa barely scored a goal and he was there for them," said Roy over the telephone yesterday. "He's been there for them all these years. (Marian) Hossa, (Daniel) Alfredsson, (Martin) Havlat ... now it's time for them to shine, I think."

 Roy said he can identify with what the Senators goaltender has gone through this season and this spring. Lalime struggled with some inconsistency and had Senators fans seriously wondering if he was the guy to lead them to Cup glory.

 TOO TOUGH ON HIM

 "This year people were pretty tough on him," said Roy, who watched the Senators defeat the Leafs 4-2 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final on television.

 "I like him. Maybe he hasn't played up to the level of expectations, but if anybody can turn it around, I think he can. It's a new season and the start is important. Getting off to a good start is a big challenge. If he has another big game (tonight), he could get on top of it."

 Roy said he thinks Lalime has what it takes to be a champion, but he can't do it alone. The Senators are a team gifted with marvellous individual talents, but winning at this time of year is not a solitary pursuit.

 "(Lalime) can do it for them, he can help these guys, there's no doubt in my mind," said Roy. "He can make the big saves. Can he win it for them by himself? I'm not sure about that. If everybody performs up their level, he can do the job. If he can keep his ground, he can make the difference."

 Roy, a four-time Stanley Cup winner and the NHL's all-time leader in wins and playoff wins, excelled at this time of year.

 This was his time.

 But it was not always easy for the slam-dunk Hall of Famer.

 Did Roy ever have a regular season like Lalime did this year, where there were whispers about his ability to win when it counted?

 "Yup," said Roy. "Ninety-three. We ended up winning the Stanley Cup. I think what happened that year was I was not playing as well as I had. The key for me was a meeting I had with (Canadiens coach) Jacques Demers just before the playoffs. He called me into his office and he said to me, 'I'll live and die with you. It's your choice.'

 "Well, that meant I had no choice. I had the confidence of the coach and that meant a lot to me. He told me no matter what happened, I would be back in the net the next day. That helped me deal with the challenge.

 "That made a big difference for me, to be honest. Having the encouragement and support of the coach would help anybody. Everybody knows how this game can play with your mind. When you play with confidence, it puts you in a comfort zone earlier."

 Senators coach Jacques Martin, who was an assistant with the Quebec Nordiques team Roy helped defeat in the first round of the playoffs that year, brought up Roy's example to Lalime before the playoffs.

 "Even the year (Roy) won the Cup in Colorado (1996), when he came over to us in Colorado, he struggled for a while," said Martin, who was an assistant with the Avalanche, leaving about a month later to become the Senators' coach.

 "I worked with him for a while and he didn't even want any pucks. All he wanted to do was work on his movement. He struggled, but him struggling, he's still better than three-quarters of the goalies. He won the Cup that year, too."

 Martin has said all along Lalime is the Senators' man, echoing the words of Demers to Roy in '93.

 "That's what you want as a player, to have the organization behind you," said Lalime. "They've been great this year with everything I've been through. You want to give it back to them."

 When informed of Roy's comments about him, Lalime was understandably pleased.

 "I think that's great," he said, "to hear a guy like him, a Hall of Famer, a guy I have a lot of respect for, it's nice to hear him say something like that."

 Roy, who retired last May, said he has no regrets about his decision to quit. With his Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL out of the playoffs, he's been watching the NHL playoffs on television and was preparing to leave today for a golf vacation in Florida.

 "It hasn't been that bad. I've been watching the games and enjoying them. My time had come," he said. "I'm at peace with my decision."

 Roy, whom Senators defenceman Greg de Vries said the other day is the greatest leader he's seen, was never shy about asking more from himself or his teammates.

 LOTS OF PRESSURE

 He'd like to see more from the Senators.

 "They came close to the final last year. Now this year is an important year for them. They are going to have to find a way to get to the big dance. They have just got to find a way. Even those nights when you're not playing so well, you have to find a way to win those games.

 "People have been pretty easy on these guys over the years. The pressure should be there to perform at the right time. The Senators are a team that has a lot of talent. Have they underachieved? It takes time to get experience, but I think their time has come."


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