Here’s the deal for the Colorado Avalanche. To make the playoffs, they’ll need to go in the neighborhood of 17-6-4 in their final 27 games. And the way the team is playing, that’s very unlikely to happen.
“Our confidence is not there, no doubt about it,” coach Patrick Roy said, per the Denver Post, in the wake of last night’s loss to the Rangers, the fourth straight defeat in regulation for the Avs.
“It’s my job to remain patient and continue to practice it and hopefully, eventually it will turn and help us to win some hockey games.”
And it’s the job of management to face reality leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.
Veteran defenseman Jan Hejda, a pending unrestricted free agent, is a player that could be turned into a draft pick or prospect. Forward Danny Briere is another pending UFA, though his trade value is minimal.
Of course, forward Ryan O’Reilly would make a good addition to a playoff team. However, he’s a more complicated situation. If the Avs are really going to trade the 24-year-old, his contract status (can’t sign an extension until July 1) may make that more likely in the offseason.
Suffering a broken jaw sidelined New York Rangers center Derek Stepan for Game 4, but apparently he received clearance to play in Game 5. He’ll suit up for the Rangers as they attempt to eliminate the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday.
Much was made of the Brandon Prust hit that injured Stepan, with the former Rangers forward expressing regret about hurting his friend while Danny Briere professed more than a little bit of doubt about the validity of Stepan’s injury.
It was obviously enough to sideline Stepan for one big game, so does that just leave it half-fishy? Will the Canadiens try to target that jaw? Do people retract their mockery of Briere or is it just a wash? There are so many questions, yet we’ll have to wait for the answers.
If you’re wondering how the Rangers will line up with the 23-year-old forward back in the mix, here’s an early look:
Consider how the past few days have gone for Stepan and it would be remarkable if he was his usual top-center self, although stranger things have happened in the playoffs:
The Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals each started their backups against each other tonight and it was Peter Budaj who came out on top with a 3-2 win in Washington.
Best part of his night? He can say he survived a full-on onslaught from Alex Ovechkin.
The Capitals captain scored two goals but couldn’t come away with a third to tie things up. The goals were his 18th and 19th on the season, giving him the league lead ahead of St. Louis’ Alex Steen.
Danny Briere scored what turned out to be the game-winner at 13:40 of the first period, a tally that put the Canadiens up 3-0, but Ovechkin scored once in the first and again in the third to whittle away at the Habs lead.
Budaj made 25 saves for Montreal while Michal Neuvirth stopped 28 for Washington. Now the Capitals get to tangle with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. If Caps forward Mikhail Grabovski needed a reason to be motivated, he’s got it facing the team that bought him out over the summer.