After watching the tape over and over, it is easy to see that the hit by Matt Cooke on Tyson Barrie will definitely be worthy of a suspension. That much is clear. What is not as clear, however, is how the Colorado Avalanche will make up for Barrie’s presence on the ice while he is injured.
Patrick Roy announced in his post-game press conference that Tyson Barrie will be out for 6 weeks with an MCL injury, ruling him out until June at the earliest. The only way he will see the ice again is if the Colorado Avalanche are playing for the Stanley Cup, and even that is a stretch. There is no saying how he will heal from that injury. While viewing the TSN broadcast of the game, it can be clearly heard from the announcers that when Barrie was skating back to the bench after the hit that he was saying, “I’m done,”.
Patrick Roy, I believe, shocked many people with his response in his post game press conference. Well, shocked those that have not been following the Avs and their coach this season. Many fair-weather or non-Avalanche fans all believe that Roy is a guy with a hot head who will snap at any given moment, given the right circumstances. However, since the opening night game against the Anaheim Ducks during which he pushed the glass between the benches down on Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau, Roy has been one of the classiest coaches in the league this season.
Roy will speak his mind, but he will do it in a respectful manner and will not go out of his way to say much of anything on a situation that happens during a game unless he is asked about it by a reporter. In this situation, he handled it much the same way. Roy said that the league would take care of Matt Cooke, and he even admitted that the Minnesota Wild was the best team on the ice for Game 3. It would be hard to argue otherwise, but can anyone imagine Ken Hitchcock or Boudreau doing that and just flat out saying that his team was outmatched and didn’t show up on a given night?
The problem the Avalanche now face is that they are down their best puck-moving defenseman in Tyson Barrie. Erik Johnson already plays a major part in the offense, so they are going to have to look to someone else to pick up the slack from the blue line. There are a few choices for what this will be, but look for Nick Holden to step into Barrie’s role on the blue line, especially during power play situations.
The Avs are going to have to go to their healthy scratches to find their 6th defenseman for the rest of this series, and if they win that then the rest of the playoffs. There are a couple different options for Roy, and they will all give him a little something different.
Ryan Wilson is a guy who has been around the league for a while, but he has been in Roy’s doghouse throughout this season. He hasn’t seen much ice time and has been injured at different parts of the season as well. He wouldn’t pick up for Barrie in the offensive end, but he has shown in the past that he can be a very reliable player in the defensive end. He also would add some physicality to the Avs lineup, which with the way this series is turning out to be would not be such a bad thing.
Stefan Elliott is really the only other choice that the Avs have to replace Barrie currently. Elliott spent most of this season in the AHL with the Lake Erie Monsters, the Avs AHL associate, and produced 14 goals along with 14 assists in 61 games played. However, the most important thing for Coach Roy will be that he had a -16 in plus/minus rating.
Roy wants his defensemen not only to contribute on offense, but also have them be strong on the defensive side. That is why Tyson Barrie was so valuable. Barrie produced 13 goals and 25 assists this season, but more importantly had a +17 plus/minus. No defenseman on the Avs roster had a negative plus/minus rating this season, not even Ryan Wilson. Whoever takes Barrie’s roster spot will have to prove themselves in the defensive end first.
This series just got a lot more interesting.