Patrick Roy’s biggest challenge as an NHL coach is upon him

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Things were looking so good for the Colorado Avalanche.

And then they boarded their flight to Minnesota.

Just to recap all things that went wrong for the Avs in Games 3 and 4:

— They lost both of them.
— They only scored once.
— They were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin, 78-34.
— They lost Tyson Barrie for the series and beyond.

And how’s that sitting with them?

“Hanging around the locker room after the game,” wrote the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater last night, “I got the sense that this team is flustered, more than I have at any point on the season.”

This is the adversity the young Avs were bound to run into at some point in the postseason. The good news is, they still have home-ice advantage, and they’re still getting great goaltending from Semyon Varlamov.

“When we have the type of performance that we have from our goaltender, there’s no reason for us to not believe in ourselves, coming back home,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said.

For Roy, the leading candidate to be named coach of the year, preparing his team for Saturday’s Game 5 will be his biggest challenge to date as an NHL bench boss. If the Avs are down mentally, he’ll need to get them back up. And that might not be easy after they were so thoroughly dominated for two straight games.

Roy will also need to figure a way to get his young guns going again. Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals in Games 1 and 2. Only Ryan O’Reilly managed to score in Minnesota.

Yes, the Avs will have last change at home, which will help. But they won’t have Ilya Bryzgalov to shoot on. Since taking over the goaltending in Game 2, rookie Darcy Kuemper has stopped 47 of 48 shots for the Wild.

“We’re still not testing this goalie enough. We’re making him look good by taking shots from the outside and nobody being in front,” Landeskog said.

All throughout the regular season, there were those who predicted a Colorado collapse. Yet the Avs kept finding ways to win, to the point it became their mantra:

source:

Now, again, with all sorts of so-called experts predicting their demise, they have an opportunity to just find a way.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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