Colorado Avalanche v New York Rangers

Avs’ Stastny (back) out Monday, could return on Wednesday

Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny will miss Monday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets with a back injury, but the Denver Post reports that he’s expected to return for Wednesday’s big test against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As of this writing, the Avs are three points behind Chicago for the second spot in the Central Division, but they’ve played one fewer game. They also have more regulation/overtime wins (38-33) among tiebreaker advantages.

Obviously, beating Winnipeg would only improve the Avs’ chances of usurping the Blackhawks, but they’ll do so with a modified lineup, as Stastny’s absence forces Patrick Roy to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Nathan MacKinnon moves from winger to center to fill the void left by Stastny while Jamie McGinn jumps up from the third line to take MacKinnon’s spot.

Stastny, 28, is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has 20 goals and 47 points in 58 games, ranking as an underrated part of Colorado’s breakthrough season.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?