Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy will have his hands full in his first year with the team, but he’s got a pair of players that already demanding his attention in the best way.
Adrian Dater of The Denver Post hears it from Roy about the way forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene have become a sort of dynamic duo so far in training camp for the Avs.
“Wow. I thought it was a nice clinic out there,” said Roy, when asked about their performance. “He and Ryan seem to work really well together.”
“Ryan is a smart guy. He’s so good along the wall,” Roy said. “He’s really making room for ‘Dutchy,’ and they’re clicking really well.”
That’s good news for the Avalanche as Duchene, along with P.A. Parenteau, were their two bright spots last season. Getting O’Reilly to join him in picking up his game would be a boon to the Avalanche attack.
As it is, the Avs are set up to have a potentially exciting offense with 2013 first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon joining the team and playing the third line. With him joining Paul Stastny, Alex Tanguay, and Gabriel Landeskog, offense should be one area they don’t have to worry about this year.
At 38 years old, Evgeni Nabokov has seen it all in the NHL. When it comes to moving on past an early playoff exit, he knows what that’s like all too well.
As he tells Arthur Staple of New York Newsday, he moved on past his disappointing play in that series already and is ready to get started anew.
“With me, 2-3 weeks and it’s out of the window. We have to move on,” Nabokov said. “We can’t continue to think about what happened last year. Last year is last year; it was a 48-game season, was totally different. That’s in the past. Who cares? I don’t care.”
You have to love the stubbornness of a veteran goalie.
Nabokov is right to want to forget about that series because he played poorly against the high-powered Penguins putting up a .842 save percentage and a 4.44 goals-against average. If he let that performance linger in his memory, he might have nightmares.
As it is, he’s gunning to lead the Islanders even higher in the standings this year in the new Metropolitan Division. Now that the Islanders have gotten a taste for the playoffs, they don’t want it to be another five years before they get back again.
Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Morgan Rielly is making life tough on team management in training camp.
The 19-year-old defenseman came into camp knowing he had to impress everyone and then some to earn a spot with the Leafs and as Mark Zwolinski of The Toronto Star shares, he’s doing just that early on. Coach Randy Carlyle says he has to keep it going into the team’s first preseason game against Philadelphia.
“He has to play to his strengths . . . you see what he can do — get up in the rush — and he did that there on that goal,” Carlyle said. “He has to do that in an exhibition game, then the next one after that and so on.”
Rielly was paired up with team captain Dion Phaneuf yesterday at camp and such a pairing likely wasn’t done on a lark.
If he can work well with the team’s best defenseman, and if there’s chemistry, he could force Carlyle and GM Dave Nonis to give him a longer look into the regular season.
While that could make the team’s already dicey salary cap situation more difficult, if it means the team finds their new No. 2 blue liner, they might just be OK with that.
Related: Leafs need to be careful with prized prospect Rielly
New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan would love to be ready for the season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes, but he doesn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.
Callahan tells Jim Cerny at Blueshirts United he’s gunning to be back in the lineup, but says the possibility of that happening isn’t looking too good.
“I’m trying to work my way back as soon as I can here with rehab and strengthening my shoulder,” explained Callahan. “I’m not going to put anything out of my mind until that day (opening night) has passed. I think there’s a slim chance that could happen, but I’m not going to say ‘No’ until that day has passed.”
Callahan had his shoulder operated on this summer and did prepare the team by saying his rehab could last into the start of the season back in late July.
Starting off the season without one of their top forwards isn’t optimal, especially with Derek Stepan still as yet unsigned, but now the onus is on Rick Nash and Brad Richards to come flying out of the gates to get the team off on the right foot.
Adam Larsson’s time in the NHL since being taken fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2011 has seen more downs than ups and he’s hoping to change that this season.
The 20-year-old Swedish blue liner tells Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice he knows he has a lot to prove this year.
“I knew it would take a couple of years to really adjust and get used to the game,” Larsson said. “This is an important year for me, so I have to step up and show the coaches and show the organization that I earned a spot in 82 games this year.”
Larsson’s battle for a spot is a healthy mix of veterans and fellow youngsters hungry to prove themselves.
Established guys like Anton Volchenkov, Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Marek Zidlicky, and Peter Harrold will all vie for playing time while young guys like Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas, and Alex Urbom will be there to push as well.
If Larsson isn’t sharp, he could wind up back in the press box or the minors. Put up or shut up time? Sure seems like it.