Originally created 05/26/01

More mature Roy takes aim at fourth Cup

DENVER -- In seasons past, Patrick Roy may have been tempted to razz the New Jersey Devils, perhaps say something about how they couldn't shoot a puck into the Hudson River.

Sixteen years in the NHL have made the Colorado Avalanche goalie more reflective than combative. At 35, he is gentler and more mature, but no less stingy - or confident.

"Maybe it's age, I don't know," he joked Friday. "I just want to go out there and enjoy games. I know I am toward the end and I want to have fun out there. I don't want to put any extra pressure on myself. Every time you make a comment, you have to back it up. Now, that's not what I want to do."

Roy, who has won more regular-season and playoff games than any goalie in NHL history, goes for his fourth Stanley Cup when Colorado and New Jersey open their best-of-seven series Saturday in Denver.

While his teammates took turns in the spotlight earlier in the week, Roy chose to remain silent publicly. There would be no cocksure sound bites about Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears or psychological jabs to agitate the Devils.

Roy's play has said enough. His 1.74 goals against average leads all goalies in the playoffs and he has been Colorado's leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the postseason MVP.

"The guy's awesome. What are you going to do?" Devils forward Scott Gomez asked. "You expect nothing less from him. He's that good. We have a pretty good goaltender ourselves, but you look at the history of hockey. You'd have to put him up there as one of the best if not the best."

It's fitting that New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur will finally face Roy for the Cup. With 286 regular-season victories, the 29-year-old Brodeur is the biggest threat to Roy's NHL record of 484-and-counting.

Roy was Brodeur's boyhood idol and the age difference showed in their demeanor Friday. While Brodeur was smiling and giddy, Roy was polite but stoic as he prepared to complete a memorable season.

On Oct. 17, Roy won his 448th game to break Terry Sawchuk's NHL record, and he was the starting goalie for the All-Star game played in Denver four months later. He also enjoyed his first 40-win season, no thanks to the Devils.

New Jersey was the only team to chase Roy from the crease in mid-game, scoring four goals in two periods on Dec. 5, and adding five more in 31 minutes on March 13.

"Playoffs are a different season to me," Roy said. "I'd rather look at it as a positive and find a solution instead of trying to look at a negative."

Devils coach Larry Robinson knows the threat Roy poses. The two played together for four seasons in Montreal, and Robinson remembers Roy carrying the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup title as a rookie in 1986.

"It goes without saying that in '86 when he came in, we basically won the Cup because of Patrick," Robinson said. "He has just blossomed from there. I think Montreal paid dearly with his departure because he's had an unbelievable career."

Roy left Montreal on sour terms when he demanded a trade in December 1995 and helped Colorado win the Stanley Cup six months later.

His future with the Avs is uncertain after this latest championship run. Roy will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and has no intention of hanging up his mask anytime soon.

"I never really put a number of years on myself," he said. "As long as I enjoy myself and as long as I feel like I could help my team win, I guess I'd like to play."


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