Semyon Varlamov, Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, Cory Sarich

Surprising Avs can pass Hawks with win tonight


The surprising Avalanche have an opportunity to overtake the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks tonight in Denver.

As of this morning, Colorado sits one point back of second-place Chicago in the Central Division. With St. Louis fairly comfortably in first, there’s a good chance these two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs. If that happens, tonight’s game could help determine which one gets home-ice advantage.

Goaltending and opportunistic scoring have continued to be the strengths of Colorado, which has been outshot by an average margin of 32.5 to 29.3 this season. That’s the 25th-most shots allowed in the NHL, and the 20th-fewest taken. Typically, that’s not a path to success, but it has been for Patrick Roy’s troops.

The Avs have won three of four versus the Hawks this season, including a 4-2 victory last Tuesday at the United Center that, yes, saw Colorado outshot, and by a convincing 38-21 margin.

“I think we outchanced and outplayed them,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said afterward.

But the Avs have a 28-6-3 record when being outshot this season. Not surprisingly, they also have a .920 team save percentage, the third-highest mark in the NHL, with starting goalie Semyon Varlamov (32-12-5, .925) being responsible for much of those two stats.

Also responsible for the winning record? Colorado’s talented cadre of young forwards. The Avs have scored on an impressive 10.3 percent of their shots, tied with Pittsburgh for the second-highest rate in the league.

Are Colorado’s winning ways sustainable? Well, that’s been the question all season for the Avs, and they keep sustaining them.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?