Roy ‘not nervous about Xs and Os,’ says slumping Avs need to be better individually

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At 1-4-2 and still without a win at home, the Colorado Avalanche have a lot riding on tonight’s game against Vancouver at the Pepsi Center.

At least that’s the impression Patrick Roy is giving, anyway. From the Denver Post:

Patrick Roy really wants this game tonight, and he really wants his players to want it even more. He talked about, essentially, players’ need to look in the mirror and ask themselves how they can be better – and to follow through on that.

At minimum, Roy expects a big-time effort from his troops, win or lose.

Roy has been harping on Colorado’s effort — or lack thereof — for most of this season. In fact, he went as far to say the losses aren’t about strategy or playing style, but rather about compete level and preparedness.

“I’m not nervous about the Xs and Os,” he said after today’s morning skate. “Everybody understands the system, everybody knows what we expect. But I think we need to be better individually.”

If you’re wondering which individuals need to be better…

— Nathan MacKinnon has zero goals and is minus-5 (with a 46 percent Corsi For) through seven games.

— Jarome Iginla is goalless with just nine shots on net.

— Gabriel Landeskog doesn’t have an even-strength goal yet and his ice time is under 17 minutes per night.

Roy wasn’t singling any one player out heading into Friday’s action, but did stress the need for players to step up and right the ship.

“I want us to be ready individually tonight,” he explained. “I want our guys to go home this afternoon and think individually what they have to do.”

Gagne may get an audition with Bruins’ Krejci, Lucic

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David Krejci and Milan Lucic seem like they’re getting healthier and more productive as of late for the Boston Bruins, but it looks like head coach Claude Julien is still experimenting to find them the right linemate.

Seth Griffith’s opportunity seemingly ended during Thursday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens, yet it seemed hasty to assume that Simon Gagne’s late shifts with Krejci and Lucic would mean an extended audition, even if Gagne managed to score a goal in that very limited amount of time with that duo.

If the Bruins’ announced line rushes are any indication, he’ll get a chance to prove he can stick:

If this sticks, it would be a fascinating opportunity for a 34-year-old winger who didn’t play in 2013-14 and waited until this season already started to get his current, $600K deal. He also started off on the fourth line.

Gagne has two 40+ goal seasons and two other 30+ campaigns to his name, so it’s easy to see why things could work out, especially since Krejci and Lucic would likely open up a lot of space for the winger to unleash what still may be a lethal shot. (One may assume that trait hasn’t “left him.”)

Krejci and Lucic might be used to setting up right-handed shots considering their experiences with Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton, so it would be interesting to see if Gagne’s once-elite lefty release changes this dynamic in anyway.

Speaking of changing dynamics, coaches tend to tweak lines frequently in the NHL, so there’s no telling how long Gagne might stick.

Considering the resume he brings to the table and Boston’s limited options thanks to cap concerns, it might behoove the Bruins to give him a long look here, though.

Avs happy Iginla picked them

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When 19-year NHL veteran Jarome Iginla chose to sign with the Colorado Avalanche in the offseason he did so knowing he was joining a young dressing room, but he didn’t arrive in Denver looking to change much.

“I just want to come and honestly just work and prepare each day, play whatever role is given and play hard,” said Iginla. “It’s not like trying to come up with any sayings or anything like that, they’ve been around a long time especially for how young they are.”

Colorado was in the middle of the pack as the 15th youngest team in the league last season, but with Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene – the corner stones of the franchise – all under the age of 23, the 37-year-old has left an impact early in the season.

“They had a great year last year, they’ve been improving so much and there’s a lot of young stars in the room,” said Iginla. “You talk to Duch, he’s been in the league six years, he’s only 23 so it’s not like… it’s a young team, but it’s not an extremely inexperienced team. A lot of these guys have a had  a lot of success already.”

For Landeskog, a young captain, having Iginla around has been beneficial.

“He certainly comes in and brings a lot of leadership and a lot of that quiet leadership and the experience that he’s got,” said Landeskog, 21. “Certainly a lot of fun to be around and a lot of fun to see how he works and goes about his business on a day-to-day basis. He’s certainly brought a lot.”

Added Duchene, “You learn a lot from him. I think he’s one of those guys that he’s good for a reason. He puts the work in, he takes care of himself, he sees the game well. He lives and breathes it. It’s just amazing to see the passion and drive a 37-year-old who has done so much can still have.”

When Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf broke into the league as a 20-year-old with the Calgary Flames, the impact a then 28-year-old Iginla had on the defenseman was significant.

“For me, he was great to me when I came in as a young guy in helping me find my way into the National Hockey League,” said Phaneuf. “The biggest thing that I learned from him is how hard he works on and off the ice. He’s a guy that played extremely hard for his team, stuck up for his teammates, played a hard style of hockey and he scored goals.

“He’s a guy that I can’t say enough good things about. He taught me a lot about what it took to, not only break into the NHL, but how to be a professional and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him.”

Despite his age, Iginla has shown no real sign of slowing down. The Edmonton, Alberta native was tied for the team lead in goals (30) in Boston last season and finished third in points (61) behind only David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.

“So far, he’s very good for us,” said coach Patrick Roy. “He’s an experienced player, works really hard when he’s on the ice. I think he shows a lot of good examples for our guys.”

No matter the reason he signed in Colorado during the offseason, the Avs are happy to have him.

“I know he wants the cup so bad,” said Duchene. “He picked us to try and win it with and it’s a big compliment for us.”

Ex-ref Fraser explains why Phaneuf-Iginla fight was stopped

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Hockey fight fans were furious on Tuesday when linesmen stepped in to stop Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla from trading punches in Toronto.

It would’ve been a high-profile bout between two former teammates — teammates, by the way, who’ve been forced to deny rumors they had a physical altercation when they were together in Calgary.

So why did the linesmen get in the way? Both Phaneuf and Iginla kept their helmets on, so it wasn’t that.

Per TSN.ca, former referee Kerry Fraser explains:

The League has encouraged linesmen to prevent a fight from occurring if the situation allows them to do so safely. The presence of space and time between players as they measure one another prior to throwing punches often allows the linesmen a small window of opportunity to safely intervene.

Which is the same explanation that TSN Insider Darren Dreger provided today on Montreal radio.

“The benchmark has been reset now,” said Dreger. “Hockey operations made it clear to me that the mandate is, if there’s a safe way to step into a fight and prevent that fight from happening, the linesmen are told to do it.”

Unlike the old days, when linesmen were a bit more patient…

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin in a music video almost too weird to exist

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell believes that 3-on-3 overtime would “all but kill” the shootout. (The Hockey News)

Fascinating stuff about Taylor Crosby – sister of Sidney – trying to carve out her own niche as a goalie at Northeastern University. (SB Nation)

Speaking of Sidney Crosby, The Score’s Justin Bourne provided a great breakdown regarding why his shot tends to leave goaltenders guessing. (The Score)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $10,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday night’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $1,000. Starts Wednesday at 8pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Jarome Iginla explains that his near-fight with Dion Phaneuf was merely a “heat-of-the-moment thing.” (Denver Post)

Simon Gagne’s signing could mean notable changes for the Boston Bruins’ fourth line. (CSNNE.com)

The Philadelphia Flyers are in a tough spot right now, but fans in need of a pick-me-up merely need to watch Claude Giroux’s ridiculous shootout goal on a loop:

Last, but certainly not least bizarre, Alex Ovechkin appeared in a music video for Katya Lel that’s just … *stares off into space like Ovechkin does for most of that really, really bizarre clip*

That clip comes via Russian Machine Never Breaks by way of Slava Malamud, although kudos are in order for Puck Daddy’s description of the video:

If you ever wanted to see a woman who looks like a mash-up of Robyn and Drea de Matteo groping a stone-faced Alex Ovechkin as he holds in a fart for three and a half minutes … Merry Christmas.

Can’t sum it up much better than that.