DENVER - The Avalanche entered the final minute of their Game 4 loss on a power play. Boy, it sure would've been nice to have Tyson Barrie on the ice, eh?
"You can't dwell on him not being there," forward Paul Stastny said.
Time to stop dwelling, Avs. To capture Saturday's Game 5 at Pepsi Center and reclaim ownership of a 2-2 series against the Wild, Colorado must follow the eloquent words of its coach.
"Now it's time for - pardon my words - to put our balls on the table," Patrick Roy explained on Friday.
Perfectly said, coach. When did the Avs go soft? The transformation into Silly Putty seems to have happened right about when Matt Cooke made like the goon he is and removed Barrie from the equation in Game 3. Since then the Avs have backed off.
Why Not Us? morphed into Why Are They Hitting Us?
This isn't a call to arms. Playoff teams can't risk a seat in the penalty box by taking a dumb penalty for sucker-punching an opponent. But the way Minnesota is knocking the Avs off the puck and taking possession with such regularity, facts are facts.
Colorado got bullied in Minnesota.
Roy is right.
"When you start talking about putting your balls on the table, that's what you're talking about: winning your 1-on-1 battles," he said.
A Roy press conference became the best show in hockey the day he was introduced as coach of the Avalanche.
"I took a nonguaranteed contract. I don't care," he said then. "I'm not nervous about losing my job."
Although he has fun with it, Roy doesn't answer questions from media for the fun of it. But there is a lot of truth in his words. Two road losses is the norm, not the exception.
When the Avs set their gameplan for the playoffs, "It was not to go 16-0," Roy said. "How many teams have been 16-0 in the history of the NHL? Come on, you know that. None? Is there one? No. I'm surprised to hear that. I thought it was 100 teams."
There's no secret formula for how the Avs went from 29th in the NHL to winners of the Central Division. Their formula was more simple than that: belief in self.
"My glass is half full," Roy said. "I would rather be that way."
And there's no secret formula for how the Wild outplayed the Avs in Games 3 and 4. Aside from a furious push from the Avs at the end, the same was true in Game 1.
The Avs play pretty. The Wild plays pretty mucky. Now that Minnesota is slowing down the game like a mid-major team trying to pull an upset in the NCAA Tournament, the Avs face their toughest challenge yet.
"Minny played with a type of urgency we haven't seen all year," Roy said.
A physical opponent has a way of rattling great talent. Ask the Broncos.
To regain their momentum, the Avs needn't go down in the gutter where Cooke owns a winter home. But they will need to get in the ditches with some old-fashioned manual labor, the kind no one likes but sometimes is necessary to get the job done.
"It's not (about) how pretty it's going to be," Roy said. "It's about the final way to put one in."
The dwelling is over. Finishing this series will require a hard hat, a table and some other junk.