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)

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: