Excellent goaltending explains only part of the Avalanche's 5-0 start behind an NHL-best 0.8 goals-against average. The newly adopted defensive-zone coverage in front of goalies Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been equally stellar.

"Varly and I are what people are talking about but it's a different team in front of us" Giguere said Monday. "We're on our toes more into the game more in the guys' face instead of always letting the opposition come to us."

Credit rookie NHL coach Patrick Roy for installing the Detroit-tested system in Denver. The hall of famer has kicked any evidence of zone defense at even strength out the door. Roy demands that his defenders continually move their feet and pressure the puck carrier.

"It's man-to-man/support" Roy said of the defensive coverage he brought with him from his eight-year stint with major junior's Quebec Remparts. "More and more teams will have their defense men involved in the attack and if you play (zone) you cannot follow them.

"All the teams that I've watched have success — St. Louis Detroit and the other top teams — are doing it. And in order for us to have some success there are things you have to copy and this is one of the big things."

Roy's defensive system has been fine-tuned with the help of his assistants including defensive development consultant Adam Foote and is being taught to the club's minor-league affiliates. Much of it is basic hockey.

"There's a few ways to do defensive-zone coverage — every team has a different system — but if guys don't buy into it like what we did last year you're not going to have success" Giguere said.

There is no winging it with Roy. For example if the opponent creates a 3-on-3 rush the Avs' two behind-the-play forwards aren't coasting into the defensive zone and thinking transition. Roy wants them to support and smother the attack before the opponent's defense can get involved.

"The biggest part of our D-zone is our forwards and a lot of what Patrick is telling us to do is support — play man-to-man and when someone gets beat there's always a guy supporting you" Avs defenseman Erik Johnson said.

Colorado is allowing 34 shots per game 26th in the league and about three more than it is producing. But that's not necessarily a bad thing when most of the shots are from the perimeter and the goalie and his defenders are working together in unison.

"A lot from the perimeter" Giguere said of the shots allowed. "We've done a great job taking rebounds away and the D has done a good job boxing out."