Is Colorado's defense Cup-caliber?
April, 21, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN.com
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsPatrick Roy encourages the D to jump into offensive play anytime the opportunity presents itself.They know what people think.
They know some people look at their team and admire a group of young forwards whose talent stacks up with any in the league, especially with the unveiling of Nathan MacKinnon in the first two games of the playoffs. Then they look at the goalie and see Semyon Varlamov, whose strong Game 2 performance was a bit overshadowed by MacKinnon’s bursts of speed that tilted the early portion of the series, but was crucial nonetheless.
The job Patrick Roy has done behind the bench has eared league-wide respect, which leaves just one area of doubt for those examining this Colorado Avalanche team, and it’s a big one in this postseason.
The guys who make up the Avalanche blue line know there are doubters, even after a 112-point regular season and early series lead against the Minnesota Wild.
"Yeah, I can understand how people would have that impression," Avalanche defenseman Nate Guenin said when we chatted in Denver. "You look at the group back here -- Nick Holden and myself. This is our first year here in the NHL. [Andre Benoit] is relatively new here too. For us, we really do have a skilled group up front. It’s about doing our job, getting them the puck. We do know that if we do make a mistake, we have a heck of a goalie back there."
The Avalanche are at a critical point in their series against the Wild. If they win Monday night, they open up a commanding 3-0 lead on Minnesota and put themselves in outstanding position to finish off a series and wait for the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks to bludgeon themselves until a winner staggers out of that series.
If that happens, it opens up a series of possibilities for the Avs this spring, a series of possibilities that could depend entirely on just how well this group of defensemen play.