Former NHL goalie now coach Patrick Roy was at the center of the highly combustible 1990s rivalry between the Avalanche and the Wings. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)
Detroit — The long dormant Red Wings rivalary with the Colorado Avalanche could be rekindled thanks to Patrick Roy.
The former Avalanche goalie, who is now head coach of the team, has Colorado rolling having brought his confident and brash style from the ice to the bench.
The Avalanche improved to 6-0 Tuesday after defeating Dallas, the team’s best start since it moved to Denver in 1995.
By defeating the Red Wings Thursday, the Avalanche can match the franchise record of seven consecutive victories in 1985-86.
“He has a lot of emotion and the guys are playing well in front of him,” said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who was with Colorado until the Red Wings acquired him at the 2012 trade deadline.
People got a good indication of what kind of coach Roy will be on opening night when he pushed the glass partition between the benches toward Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau after the two began chirping each other.
But it’s that kind of passion and intensity and Roy’s ability to relate to players — he participates in drills and works closely with the goaltenders — seems to have clicked with a young team that struggled last season.
“They have good things going.” Quincey said.
Roy, 48, coached six seasons in junior hockey in the Quebec before accepting the job with the Avalanche (now run by former teammate Joe Sakic).
The experience Roy gained in junior hockey, said coach Mike Babcock, will benefit the new NHL coach going forward.
“I know nothing about him as a coach. I just know he was an elite, elite goaltender, and a very competitive guy,” Babcock said. “Obviouly looking back and learning to coach by coaching junior hockey, major junior is like NHL-lite, you learn,” Babcock said. “He’s got 20 years of pro and he knows the nuances, and when you coach good players you get to be a better coach.”
And the Avalanche, who added No. 1 overall pick forward Nathan MacKinnon, have an abundance of good players after drafting so high the past few years.
“They go very fast,” Babcock said. “Two years ago they outskated us. They had a bunch of injuries last year. This year, they’ve got more guys and keep adding good players. The kid (MacKinnon) looks like he’s going to be a star very quickly.
“They have a good looking team.”
The Red Wings sent back goalie Petr Mrazek to Grand Rapids, indicating Jimmy Howard (bruised left hand) should be ready to at least back up Jonas Gustavsson, if Howard isn’t able to play.
Howard has missed the last two games because of the sore hand, while Gustavsson stepped in and won consecutive games.
The Red Wings didn’t practice Wednesday. Babcock said after Tuesday’s victory over Columbus he wasn’t sure if Howard would be ready to play against the Avalanche.
“I talked to Howie between periods, he was icing it, and the swelling is going down in his hand,” Babcock said. “Does that mean he’s playling in Phoenix (Saturday), does he play in Colorado?
“I haven’t talked to the trainer so I don’t know the answer.”