Snapshots: Things must be getting spooky for Roy

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy might be reliving a forgettable memory. (AFP)

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy might be reliving a forgettable memory. (AFP)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:56 AM ET

With the Minnesota Wild forcing a seventh game, things must be getting a little spooky for Patrick Roy.

In 2003, Roy was in net for the Colorado Avalanche as the upstart Wild won Game 6 and sent the series back to Denver. That deciding game went to overtime, where Andrew Brunette won it at 3:25 of the extra period.

It would be the 3,130th - and last NHL goal Roy would allow as he announced his retirement soon after and was fast-tracked into the Hall of Fame. As coach, Roy has been instrumental in getting his team back among the NHL elite in a hurry. But that ‘03 Colorado team was also in the series’ driver’s seat before Minnesota came off the mat down 3-1.

The Wild, with Zach Parise battling Nathan MacKinnon for the playoff scoring lead, are now bidding to become the most successful playoff team of the ‘final four’ who joined the NHL at the turn of the last century. If they can get past the Avs, it would be their third post-season series to move one ahead of Nashville. Columbus is 0-for-2, while Winnipeg, then the Atlanta Thrashers, was swept in its only series in 2007.

Defence and possession has always been a strong tenet of the Wild. They led all playoff teams in faceoff percentage (53.8%) going into Monday’s games, always a huge part of the spring. Mikko Koivu was nearly 64% by himself and then won 17 of 28 draws on Monday.

The faceoff differential has likely hampered Colorado’s power play, which is 2-for-22 through six games.

LOUD JACKETS

Those booming in-house cannons in Columbus were finally silenced on Monday, but the Blue Jackets have sounded their arrival among Eastern Conference playoff contenders for the foreseeable future.

They stood up to Pittsburgh, with its own big guns showing up en masse the past two games, and nearly had an epic finish to force a Game 7. But unlike the first ever Columbus team that made the playoffs in 2009 and promptly disappeared, these guys will be back in 2015.

That’s bad news for the Senators, Maple Leafs and other teams who spent this spring on the post-season fringe, with more young draft talent coming down the Ohio turnpike the next couple of seasons. Columbus lost a tiebreaker to the Islanders or it would’ve been in the playoffs last year, too.

From 33-goal man Ryan Johansen to their other big-boned forwards and defence, they’ve become a recognized factor. They will have Nathan Horton back next year after abdominal surgery and they have the goaltending, with Sergei Bobrovsky around for another year. If they can keep their cap in order, they will take the next step.

DC SHAKE-UP

Don’t expect the Capitals to repeat the hiring process they underwent in 1997 when they sought both a new GM and coach.

They ended up hiring Ron Wilson before George McPhee was named general manager. Not that it didn’t yield early success - Wilson led the Caps to the 1998 Cup final before getting dusted by Detroit - but they’ll go the conventional route with the GM picking his own man.

“Ron was available, and he was a hot commodity,” club president Dick Patrick told the Washington Post. “We’d identified him as a coach we wanted and didn’t want to lose him because we weren’t ready at that point to make the decision on a general manager.”

While Brad Treliving was taken off the eligible list Monday when he moved from assistant GM of Phoenix to the big chair in Calgary, Jim Benning and Ron Hextall are among the list of possible candidates, while one or two other names could join Mike Gillis on the unemployment line by the end of the playoffs.


MIKE ZEISBERGER BREAKS DOWN ALL 16 PLAYOFF TEAMS

-Click the box below for the skinny on this year's post-season


ICE CHIPS

No matter what happens with the NHL playoff format in future, re-alignment has been a success. It set the table for Columbus - Pittsburgh and Boston - Detroit, a couple of long overdue playoff match-ups with regional and historical significance ... You can bet at least eight teams were quietly chortling that Ryan Miller didn’t get past the first round, those on the list the goalie wouldn’t accept a trade to. That was believed to include most Western Canadian teams. Though not all of the eight would’ve been in the market for Miller, the Blues lost their gamble, along with at least a first round pick in 2015 ... “I guess I’m free to go to my sister-in-law’s wedding,” Miller told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the long summer ahead, during which he’ll likely test unrestricted free agency. ... Bruce Boudreau, his Ducks down two goals with less than three minutes to go, twice pulled Jonas Hiller, including during a rare 4-on-4 instance. “Quite frankly, I’ve got to thank Patrick Roy,” Boudreau told the L.A. Times, acknowledging the coach he almost came to blows with in the season opener. “If he didn’t start pulling the goalies so early all year (with) such great success, I figured, you gotta get two goals, it makes perfect sense. So we did it tonight and got lucky.” ... Todd Richards pulled Bobrovsky with around two minutes remaining on Monday in a one-goal game, but Roy hooked Semyon Varlamov with 2:44 to go and gave up a pair ... Coming off the Dallas self-destruct, Leaf fans didn’t need reminding from the Elias Sports Bureau that the only other time a team clinched a playoff series when it trailed by two in the last three minutes of the third period came in the Causeway Collapse a year ago in Boston. For awhile on Monday, it seemed Pittsburgh was going to go the Leaf route as well with a 4-0 third-period lead ... Looking to the next round, the Ducks’ regular season record against the Kings was 4-0-1 and 2-2-1 versus the Sharks ... Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 20th home playoff win on Sunday, joining Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Nabokov as active goalies with at least that many. Brodeur is way out in front with 63 victories.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca

 


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