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Roy making name for himself in NHL playoffs

by John Wawrow | Associated Press

Now that Buffalo Sabres forward Derek Roy is making a splash in the NHL playoffs, it might be time to clear up one minor detail: How to pronounce his last name.

In Buffalo he goes by Roy, as in, rhymes with boy. At his home in suburban Ottawa, it’s the French version, rwah, as in the retired goaltending great Patrick Roy — no relation.

"Ah, just say ‘Roy,’" he said Saturday, referring to the English pronunciation. "But it doesn’t really matter to me."

OK, how about, Wow!

Roy is making a big statement in either language after scoring two goals and adding three assists in Buffalo‘s 7-6 overtime win over top-seeded Ottawa in the Eastern Conference semifinal series opener Friday night.

The five-point night matched the franchise playoff record and is the most Roy has had in any game of his two-year NHL career.

"It was nice," Roy said, after the Sabres returned home to practice. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night in Ottawa.

"The win was more important," he added. "If I had five points and we would’ve lost it would’ve been devastating."

Roy, who started the 2005-06 season recording 20 points in just eight games with the AHL’s Rochester Americans (including three five-point nights), made sure it wasn’t in a game the Sabres rallied five times from one-goal deficits, forced overtime on Tim Connolly‘s goal with 11 seconds left in regulation and then won it on Chris Drury‘s goal 18 seconds into overtime.

Roy‘s first goal came on a 3-on-2 rush to tie the game at 4. His second came with the Sabres shorthanded, when he one-timed Connolly’s pass to convert a 2-on-1 rush to tie the game at 5.

And he had a hand in Connolly’s goal that forced OT. Roy‘s fifth point came on a simple dump-in from the left wing that was misplayed by Senators goaltender Ray Emery, sparking the final flurry.

That Roy was on the ice at such a crucial time reflects how much confidence the Sabres suddenly have in their young forward, who struggled finding his niche in Buffalo’s first-round series against Philadelphia.

After producing no points in the Sabres first five games against the Flyers, Roy responded with a goal and two assists in Buffalo‘s series-clinching 7-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday.

Roy acknowledged he was trying too hard in making his NHL postseason debut, initially unnerved when given the responsibility of checking the Flyers’ top line, centered by Peter Forsberg.

"I was too worried about them and I wasn’t even playing offense," Roy said. "But the last two games of the series, I just blocked it out and went out and played my game."

Although relatively undersized at 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds, Roy‘s game is a combination of speed and grit. It’s a style that allowed him to produce a career-high 18 goals and 28 assists in the regular season, and what led the Sabres to make Roy a second-round pick in the 2001 draft.

Roy blossomed in his final junior season, captaining Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League to the 2003 Memorial Cup, ‘s national championship. He also was selected the tournament’s MVP.

He’s now part of a young core of Sabres — the team features four rookies and 10 players making their NHL postseason debuts — showing no signs of wilting in Buffalo‘s first playoff appearance since 2001.

"We said at the start of the playoffs that we’ve got some young guys that have to get a taste of what the playoffs are all about," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think in Derek’s case, he was in awe for a few games. But I thought his final game versus Philly gave him a lot of confidence. And then the game he put together last night was a fabulous game."

It was Roy‘s arrival in Kitchener that led to his name change.

"The announcer asked me, "Do you want to be called "Rwah’ or ‘Roy?’ And I said, ‘Roy‘s fine,’" Roy recalled. "It just stuck from there."

In other words, Patrick, the goalie, will always be ‘Rwah.’ Derek Roy is busy making a name for himself.