Dennis Everberg

Avs to ‘punish’ defenseman… by playing him at forward

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Looks like Patrick Roy has dug deep into the motivational handbook:

Holden, 27, was one of the biggest surprises in Colorado last year, making the team out of training camp before appearing in a career-high 52 games, scoring 10 goals and 25 points (Holden also had three goals and four points in seven playoff games.)

But this year… yikes. Just one goal through 25 contests with a team-worst minus-16 rating (41.2 percent Corsi For.)

As the above tweets suggest, Colorado is all sorts of banged up right now. Forwards Dennis Everberg, Jamie McGinn and Jesse Winchester are all on IR, as too are blueliners Brad Stuart and Ryan Wilson. That’s led to some major ice time for certain guys, like Tyson Barrie — he played a season-high 24:59 in Monday’s 4-3 loss to Montreal — and Alex Tanguay, who played 21:28 against the Habs, way above his season average of 17:29.

As mentioned above, the Avs are Calgary on Thursday for a date with the streaking Flames. After that, Colorado will become well acquainted with the Jets and Blues — from Dec. 5-23, the Avs play the Jets twice and the Blues three times (in the span of 10 total games).

An Avalanche of injury woes in Colorado

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It’s not getting any easier for the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche continue to occupy last place in the Central Division, a sign of the regression many who believe in advanced statistics thought was going to happen. Now, Colorado is dealing with a rash of injuries, forcing them to recall three players – Andrew Agozzino, Ben Street and Tomas Vincour – from Lake Erie in the American Hockey League.

According to the Avalanche, there are eight players now out of the lineup due to injuries. You might say this dilemma is starting to snowball.

Alex Tanguay was the latest casualty. He took an Alex Ovechkin shot to the face and suffered a facial fracture as a result.

“He texted me last night after the game and said that he will try and come back as soon as possible,” head coach Patrick Roy said Friday, as per the club’s website. “Knowing Tang, I know he has the success of the team at heart. He knows that he is an important player, and he will do whatever he can to come back as soon as possible.”

That’s a tough loss for the Avalanche right there. The 35-year-old Tanguay – and this might be a sign of the times and struggles in Colorado right now – leads the Avalanche in goals with seven.

Perhaps the good news is goalie Semyon Varlamov is only listed as day-to-day with a groin injury, suffered earlier this week. Although, because it’s a groin injury, the good news still comes with caution.

It’s not so promising beyond that.

Rookie forward Dennis Everberg (shoulder) is also out. Roy didn’t have any specific timeline for him, other than he’s out for “awhile,” according to the club.

Defenseman Ryan Wilson (shoulder surgery) is out for the season. The club has listed Patrick Bordeleau (back), Brad Stuart (hamstring) and Jesse Winchester (head) as out indefinitely, and forward Jamie McGinn (back) was still being evaluated.

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.

Despite healthy scratches, Briere won’t be ‘that miserable old guy’

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Daniel Briere has been a healthy scratch in each of Colorado’s last six contests, but he isn’t letting the situation frustrate him.

“I’m trying to take it all in,” Briere explained, per the Delaware County Daily Times. “I don’t want to be that miserable old guy that comes to the rink every day just complaining about everything.

“I try to have fun with it, have fun with the guys and enjoy as much as I can while I still have the chance.”

At 37, it’s clear time has caught up with Briere. He’s struggled through three consecutive down years in three different cities — Philadelphia, Montreal and Colorado — and suffered setbacks in each market: Philly bought him out, Montreal traded him after banishment to the press box and the Avs are now parking him in favor of the likes of Dennis Everberg and Marc-Andre Cliche.

That said, he is trying to fill the role Colorado envisioned for him — even if it’s not on the ice. Briere, along with Jarome Iginla and Brad Stuart, is a veteran presence brought aboard to help one of the NHL’s youngest teams adapt to life with expectations after last year’s breakout campaign. In that regard, Briere isn’t just fulfilling his duties with the Avs — he’s relishing them.

“I’m staying ready for whenever they need me,” he explained. “We have some extra (players) and I just have to bide my time in a little bit of a different role. But I embrace it.

“I don’t know how much time I have left but I don’t want to come to the rink and be miserable and not enjoying what’s going on. Right now all I can do is stay ready.”

Video: Bieksa decides not to wear a visor

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa decided not to wear a visor tonight in Colorado despite his close call on Sunday night against the Predators.

Bieksa ironically received a double-minor for high-sticking in the first period tonight on Colorado Avalanche rookie Dennis Everberg.

Here’s the play from Sunday night: