NHL on NBCSN: Will the depleted Avs stay above water vs Stars?


NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Colorado Avalanche host the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center at 9:00 p.m. ET.

If the difference between a bubble team and a serious playoff contender is the ability to scrape together wins even when major players are sidelined, then we’re going to learn a lot about the Colorado Avalanche over the coming days and weeks.

For the Avalanche, it’s not the quantity of players in the sickbay that’s noteworthy, but the quality of them. Forward Steve Downie brought a unique blend of toughness and offensive ability and he’s gone for the season, forward Gabriel Landeskog is their captain and reigning Calder Trophy winner and he’s dealing with a head injury.

Now defenseman Ryan Wilson, who ranks fourth on the Avalanche in playing time, is out indefinitely due to a knee injury, according to the Denver Post. That’s all on top of the absence of 21-year-old restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly, who is regarded as a great young two-way forward and broke out with 55 points last season.

The Dallas Stars will counter with a team that’s relatively healthy despite their own notable string of injuries and absences. Although the excepted return of Derek Roy will not bring their core of forwards back to full strength now that Ray Whitney is on the injured reserve list.

For Dallas the big x-factor is forward Jamie Benn, who missed training camp and the start of the season as a restricted free agent. The negotiations are well behind him, but he has no goals, one assist, and a minus-two rating in four games this season. Dallas needs him to be an offensive leader, but so far that hasn’t been the case.

Probable goaltenders: DAL – Kari Lehtonen (3-2-1, 2.62 GAA, .924 SV%) | COL – Semyon Varlamov (2-1-0, 2.41 GAA, .919 SV%)

Top scorers: DAL – Whitney (2-4-6, 8 GP) | COL – Matt Duchene (2-7-9, 8 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Dallas – Forwards: Whitney (foot) Goaltenders: Cristopher Nilstorp (groin)
Colorado – Forwards: David Jones (knee), Landeskog (head), Downie (knee) Defensemen: Wilson (leg)

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: