The Colorado Avalanche are set to honor Patrick Roy, the future Hall of Famer whose play in goal helped them win two Stanley Cups in six years. Surprisingly, goaltending hasn’t been the area responsible for Colorado’s struggles this season.
In what is sure to be an emotional night, the Avalanche will raise Roy’s No. 33 to the rafters of the Pepsi Center before they try to get back on track in a matchup with the Calgary Flames.
Roy retired after last season, ending arguably the greatest career by a goaltender in history. He left as the NHL’s all-time leader in victories (551), postseason victories (151) and 30-win seasons (12), and earned three Vezina Trophies, three Conn Smythe Trophies and four Stanley Cups.
While Colorado has gotten off to a sluggish start in its first season without Roy, it hasn’t been primarily because of poor play in the net. David Aebischer, Roy’s backup last season, has posted a 2.01 goals-against average in six games, although No. 2 goalie Phil Sauve, a rookie, struggled in two outings.
Rather, the Avalanche are only a .500 team because of the area that appeared to be their biggest strength before the season—offense.
Despite the offseason additions of stars Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne to a lineup that includes Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, Colorado has managed just 27 goals in eight games. While that total is the second-most in the NHL, lack of scoring has been the chief culprit in the team’s losses.
The Avalanche have scored at least five goals in each of their four wins, while managing just one in three of four defeats.
The lone offensive bright spot has been the NHL’s best line so far this season—that of Forsberg, Alex Tanguay and Hejduk.
The trio has 21 points in the last three games, accounting for 14 of the team’s 27 goals and 22 of its 49 assists.
The Avalanche will need that line to continue producing after their superstar depth took a hit Tuesday with the loss of Kariya to a sprained right wrist. The left wing, who has three goals and five points in five games, is out indefinitely.
The Avs moved quickly to replace him, acquiring veteran left wing Steve Konowalchuk from the Capitals the next day.
“We are struggling right now to put the puck in the net,” said Sakic, who has just one goal in eight games. “We can’t just rely on Peter’s line. The rest of us have to find a way to put the puck in the net.”
The Avs fared fine in the first two games without Kariya, outscoring Edmonton and Nashville 11-4 in a pair of victories, but fell back to the break-even mark Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Buffalo.
Colorado’s top line was only unit to generate any offense, as Tanguay scored off assists from Forsberg and Hejduk.
Tanguay’s goal extended his point streak to six games, and Forsberg’s assist gave him seven points in three games and 700 for his career.
Colorado had a two-man advantage for 1:05 early in the third period, but could not score despite leading the NHL with 11 goals power-play goals.
“If you don’t score on a 5-on-3 it always seems to find away to come back,” coach Tony Granato said. “And that’s what happened again tonight.”
Calgary captain Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists as the Flames opened a tough three-game road trip with a 4-2 win over Edmonton on Saturday.
“It was a real emotional game right from the start,” McLennan said. “Every time these two teams meet, it’s a hard-fought battle.”
Turek suffered a severe right knee sprain in the opening minutes of a 2-0 loss to the Sabres on Oct. 18. He could remain sidelined for up to three more weeks.
The Flames close out their trip against Dallas on Wednesday.
STANDINGS (through Oct. 26): Flames - 8 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division. Avalanche - 8 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla and Matthew Lombardi, 2 goals; Iginla, Steve Reinprecht and Andrew Ference, 3 assists; Iginla, 5 points; Chris Clark and Denis Gauthier, 12 PIM. Avalanche - Hejduk, 6 goals; Forsberg, 9 assists and 14 points; Jim Cummins, 30 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 26): Flames - Power play: 20.0 percent (6 for 30), 7th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 77.8 percent (28 for 36), 27th (tied). Avalanche - Power play: 24.4 percent (11 for 45), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.5 percent (32 for 37), 9th.
GOALTENDERS: Flames - McLennan (4-1-0, 1 SO, 1.30 GAA); Dany Sabourin (no appearances). Avalanche - Aebischer (4-2-0, 1, 2.01); Sauve (0-2-0, 0, 3.56).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 2-2-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 9; Avalanche, 4-2. At Denver, Forsberg scored on his first three shots for the sixth hat trick of his career. It was Colorado’s second hat trick in as many games after Hejduk had three goals a day earlier in a 5-2 win over Detroit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 2-1-0-0 on the road; Avalanche - 2-3-0-0 at home.