Roy preaches patience, bumps MacKinnon to Avs’ third line

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There are a lot of words that come to mind when you think about Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. “Patient” probably isn’t high on that list.

Still, the beleaguered head coach took that approach on Thursday morning, telling the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater that “it’s a process.”

Sometimes that process involves tweaking line combinations, and in this latest instance, the most interesting change drops Nathan MacKinnon out of Colorado’s top two trios. Dater reports that John Mitchell¬†will take MacKinnon’s spot between Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla while Alex Tanguay will play right wing with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. MacKinnon, meanwhile, will center a line with Jamie McGinn and Daniel Briere (replacing Dennis Everberg in the lineup).

Increasing depth?

On face value, moving the rising 19-year-old off the top two lines seems like a clear case of lost patience, but there are some reasons to defend the decision.

For one thing, MacKinnon’s offense dried up recently; the sophomore only has an assist in four games after a mini-burst in which he collected six points in three games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Beyond that, when you look at Colorado’s top three combinations under this amalgamation, it could conceivably be a varied attack. Much of that would depend upon Mitchell playing at the level of a second-line center, though, of course.

Sending a message

Lines change a lot in the modern NHL, so maybe this sends a message more than anything else.

While Roy’s patience seems like a breath of fresh air, his ultimate pleading remains the same: work harder.

“We’ve got to realize that it doesn’t have to be a perfect goal to count,” Roy said. “It can go off your butt, or your leg or your arm. Maybe if we can get a couple of ugly ones, it will loosen everything up.”

“But you have to work hard at going to the net to make those kinds of goals happen.”

We’ll see if the Avalanche can start turning things around tonight, as they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.