Patrick Roy: Avalanche's turn to 'put our balls on the table'

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy delivered an impassioned speech to the media Friday,...

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy delivered an impassioned speech to the media Friday, trying to light a fire under his players. (DOUG PENSINGER/Getty Images/AFP)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

DENVER - Patrick Roy has never been much for statistics, but he knows that you can’t be trailing a best-of-seven playoff series 2-2, no matter how badly you were beaten in Games 3 and 4.

Which leads him to an area where is something of an expert: Passion. With his young charges humbled and wounded after being outshot 78-34 in a pair of embarrassing road defeats in Minnesota, Roy spent Friday launching a major psychological offensive.

In what started out as an off-day media availability but quickly detoured into a full-fledged sermon, Roy stood at a practice facility pulpit and delivered, telling his players, the media and everyone else within earshot that the Avalanche are not dead. Not even dying.

“All they did to us is what we did to them, we beat them twice here they beat us twice there,” said Roy, turning 10 questions into nearly 15 minutes worth of message. “We’re right there with them. Now it’s our turn to, sorry about the words, put our balls on the table.”

It was classic Roy.

He scolded reporters for suggesting Colorado is in over its head, downplayed Minnesota’s gaudy shot totals, shrugged off Colorado’s languid power play, delivered a few one-liners and promised this thing isn’t over by a long shot.

“You know that I love winning, but we need to be patient with this group, it’s a learning process,” he said, adding the scene in Minnesota caught the whole team, including 11 players who played their first NHL post-season road games, totally off guard.

“They didn’t decide, going to Minny on the plane, ‘You know what, I think I’ve done enough for our fans. Let’s stop. Let’s lose these two games.’

“We were just not ready for it. Even myself, I admit I was a little surprised with how well (Minnesota) played. They played with a type of urgency that we haven’t seen all year.

“They deserve credit. Now we’re in front of our fans. It’s our turn now to step up.”

Roy told his players there is nothing to be ashamed or worried about after what happened to them in Minnesota. Losing happens.

“When we put our plan together for the playoffs it was not to go 16-0. It’s tough in the playoffs. The 2-2 doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s how we’re going to bounce back that I want to see. That’s all.”

While the Wild controlled both games from start to finish, Roy doesn’t see any incurable issues. He has some offensive zone adjustments in the works and will tinker with the power play, but first among his solutions is that turning the tables thing.

“I’m not going to look like a genius if I say we need to do better in one-on-one battles, we lost most of them in Minny,” he said. “But when you start talking about putting balls on the table, that’s what we’re talking about – winning your one on one battles.”

The players get the message, not that it was especially subtle.

“During the game and between periods in Minnesota (Roy) was very uplifting,” said captain Gabriel Landeskog. “That’s the way it should be. We have no reason to beat ourselves up here over two losses. In the Western Conference, home teams (were) 15-1 (heading into Friday’s playoff games). It’s not easy to win on the road. We’re just going to reload and get ready for Game 5.”

The Avs are a young, emotional team and they readily admit it can work against them sometimes when things are going wrong. That’s why it helps having an emotional compass like their coach.

“I think that’s one of the things we’ve been trying to learn all season long, how to deal with that excitement and emotion, whether it’s against you or it’s with you,” said Landeskog. “On the road, when you get frustrated, you get frustrated five times worse than at home. It’s hard, but nobody said this was going to be easy.

“It’s 2-2, we still have home ice advantage and we’re looking forward to the next three games.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca


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