Jared Bednar

Avalanche-Stars stream
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Avalanche-Stars stream: NHL Return to Play round-robin game

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Wednesday’s round-robin matchup between the Avalanche and Stars. Live look-in coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Avalanche-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Colorado Avalanche (1-0-0, 2 points)
Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0, 2 points)
St. Louis Blues (0-1-0, 0 points)
Dallas Stars (0-1-0, 0 points)

Scenarios based on Wednesday result

Dallas can finish no better than second (Colorado and Vegas each have two points and because of their remaining matchup, one of them will get to four points. Dallas maxes out at four points and will lose any tiebreaker)

Avalanche win in regulation
• DAL can finish no better than third.
• Other three teams can still finish with No. 1 seed, but Colorado controls its own outcome and would earn the No. 1 seed by beating Vegas.

Stars win in regulation
• Second is still the best Dallas can do.
• All other teams can still finish with No. 1 seed.

Avalanche win in OT/SO
• DAL can still finish second.
• But would need St. Louis to beat Vegas in regulation on Thursday
• Other three teams can still finish first, but Colorado controls its own outcome and would earn the No.1 seed by beating Vegas.

Stars win in OT/SO
• Second is still the best Dallas can do.
• All other teams can still finish with No. 1 seed.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Wednesday, August 5, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN (live look-in)
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Avalanche-Stars live look-in stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Western Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 4, Stars 3 (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (live look-in stream)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

McDavid headlines brutal injury list with Weber, Kuznetsov, Kadri

Tuesday’s injury list is a doozy, with news about Connor McDavid headlining a trio of impact losses. Nazem Kadri and Shea Weber also stand out as injuries with playoff and/or trade deadline implications. The same goes for Evgeny Kuznetsov if his situation is worse than “day-to-day.”

McDavid injury estimated to sideline him for 2-3 weeks

Oilers GM Ken Holland delivered the bad news of McDavid being out two-to-three weeks:

“He’s two to three weeks. That’s a normal timeline for this injury,” Holland said. “We’re hoping less … It’s not long-term. We’ll double-back a week from now.”

Lower-body injuries can be tricky, however, so it’s fair to say they “hope” that isn’t long-term. For what it’s worth, the Oilers insist that McDavid’s quad injury is unrelated to recent knee issues. McDavid suffered the injury during Saturday’s win against the Predators.

Even in the short term, this is big. Merely glance at the ocean-sized gulf between McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the rest of the Oilers’ leading scorers:

Not ideal. Edmonton’s schedule makes things worse. While this view would reflect a pessimistic injury timeline, it’s still worth noting that the Oilers play nine of their next 13 games on the road (home games in bold):

Feb. 11 vs. Chicago
Feb. 13 at Tampa Bay
Feb. 15 at Florida
Feb. 16 at Carolina
Feb. 19 vs. Boston
Feb. 21 vs. Minnesota
Feb. 23 at Los Angeles
Feb. 25 at Anaheim
Feb. 26 at Vegas
Feb. 29 vs. Winnipeg
Mar. 2 at Nashville
Mar. 3 at Dallas
Mar. 5 at Chicago

Glance at how tight the Pacific and West standings are, and despair (if you’re an anxious Oilers fan):

No, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Oilers lack a big buffer in standings points, but they hold two or three games in hand on the teams closest to them.

Still, they face plenty of bubble opponents down the stretch, including the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Things could unravel if they lose many of those McDavid-less games, particularly during regulation.

Weber injury situation sounds ominous

A cruel season of injuries continues for the Montreal Canadiens. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Shea Weber’s lower-body injury doesn’t look “encouraging.” McKenzie notes that the Habs haven’t been forthcoming with information about the situation.

Some of that might boil down to Weber’s status being murky at the moment. McKenzie explained further:

Often times, when a player is sidelined for a week or more without a definitive prognosis/announcement from the club, it’s because the doctors/club/player are weighing the options (rehab vs. surgery etc) or getting additional medical opinions on what can be complicated injuries.

This stings deeper because Weber had been enjoying a healthy, fantastic season after years of injury issues since joining the Canadiens. If Weber misses significant time, it would represent the third straight season derailed by ailments.

To me, this attaches a neon flashing sign to what was already probably true: the Canadiens should suck it up and sell at the trade deadline.

Injuries to Kadri, Kuznetsov

  • Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told Altitude Sports Radio that Nazem Kadri is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Bednar stated that Kadri is expected to miss “weeks, not days.”

“I think that Kadri’s a big loss,” Bednar said, via Sportsnet’s transcription. “You’ve got a face-off guy, you got a power-play guy, you got a second-line centre down the middle that adds some experience and, like you said, that grit and sandpaper.”

The Avs were pushing the Blues quite a bit for the Central crown lately. Colorado’s on a four-game winning streak, and while St. Louis holds a three point standings edge (73-70), the Avs have played two fewer games. Losing Kadri makes it a tougher hill to climb.

Washington already lost three of its last four games and four of six. The Capitals lead the Metro with 77 points to Pittsburgh’s 73, but the Penguins hold two games in hand.

Overall, quite a few races could be influenced by Tuesday’s bad injury news.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL on NBCSN: Can Grubauer, Avalanche get on track vs. Blues?

Blues Avalanche preview Grubauer
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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

About a month ago, a Blues – Avalanche game would present a battle for Central Division supremacy. As we’ve learned all too often in the turbulent NHL, a lot can change — fast.

The Blues took care of their end — and then some. While their eight-game winning streak ended on New Year’s Eve, they’re running away with the top spot in the Central and West. Their most relevant battles might instead be for the Presidents’ Trophy, and they’re rightfully perched among the league’s best during their impressive defense of that first-ever Stanley Cup championship.

Meanwhile, cracks are forming for the Avalanche.

Colorado on the edge of a crisis?

Despite injuries to Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche found ways to keep winning.

Lately, that train came to a screeching halt, even with such key players returning to action. The Avs ended 2019 with a thud, falling 7-4 to the Jets to slip to 1-4-1 over their last six games.

You can almost feel the Avs’ confidence fading.

“It feels like it’s hard to win right now,” Rantanen said following that loss to the Jets, via the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers. “We play good periods at times, but then we shoot ourselves in the leg. I think it’s in our minds. When it’s a tie game, or we’re up one or down one, we get scared that (a collapse) is going to happen again.”

That doesn’t sound like a resilient team. Really, a team that was snatching victory from defeat is now experiencing the opposite.

“We’re finding different ways to lose every night lately, and it’s frustrating,” Erik Johnson said, also via Chambers.

Goalie battle brewing?

Looking at win-loss records alone, you’d assume Philipp Grubauer has mainly been struggling recently. After all, he’s only managed a single victory since Dec. 4.

The larger truth might just be that the Avs aren’t propping Grubauer up the same way.

The deeper you drill into Grubauer’s stats, the clearer it is that he’s been just OK all season. Grubauer actually managed a better save percentage during his one-win December (.910) as he did in a 3-4-0 November (.903).

Overall, Grubauer sports a mediocre 10-9-3 record, and a middling-but-not-catastrophic .911 save percentage.

In a more anxious hockey market, you’d probably hear all about how a goalie battle should be brewing. Maybe that hypothetical nervous group of fans would have a point, too.

Pavel Francouz stepped in when Grubauer was hurt, and now it’s fair to wonder who will start each night.

Even after a tough loss to the Wild on Dec. 27, Francouz’s numbers sparkle. The 29-year-old is 11-3-1 with a splendid .927 save percentage. That tough night against Minnesota ended a four-game winning streak, and Francouz also saw the end of an impressive eight-game point streak (7-0-1).

Avalanche count on history repeating with Grubauer?

Looking at Francouz’s numbers, it’s fair to wonder why he received such scant opportunities during his career. The undrafted goalie managed strong (if not brilliant) numbers basically everywhere he went. One could validly argue that the Avs should let him run with these chances.

On the other hand, what if Grubauer repeats the narrative from last season.

Consider that Grubauer was putrid before the All-Star break last season (.891 save percentage over 21 games), only to catch on fire afterward (.948 in 16 games), closing it off with a strong playoff run.

It’s easy to see why the Avalanche weigh that experience — and, frankly, their larger financial commitment to Grubauer — more than Francouz’s superior recent play.

That said, it’s absolutely a situation to watch, and one the Avs can’t afford to ignore. The Blues won’t be shy about testing Colorado’s goalies, either.

John Forslund and Brian Boucher will call the action from Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Babcock betting on himself; impact of Fabbri trade

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Mike Babcock on the pressures he’s currently facing with the Maple Leafs struggling: “I’m going to do (the job) as hard as I can for as long as I can. I’ve always bet on Mike Babcock. I’m going to continue to bet on him.” [Toronto Star]

• It’s not been a fun season if you’re employed as a Maple Leafs backup goaltender. [One Puck Short]

• Brady and Matthew Tkachuk have turned into phenomenal NHLers. [TSN]

• It’s been a pretty good first 20 games for the Panthers under Joel Quenneville. [Miami Herald]

• ‘Scrappy’ Jets gaining an identity at season’s quarter-mark. [Winnipeg Free Press]

• Morgan Frost, one of the Flyers’ top prospects, has been recalled. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

• How Barry Trotz went from 50/50 sales to winning the Stanley Cup. [Sportsnet]

• What’s bugging the Predators of late? [A to Z Sports Nashville]

• The Bruins are eager to see Charlie McAvoy reached another level. [Boston Herald]

• Fun story from the NCAA over the weekend: Nine minutes before pregame warmups started, North Dakota’s Josh Rieger was eating a pound of buffalo wings. He got the call, rushed to the rink and scored his first goal. [Grand Forks Herald]

• How Robby Fabbri trade impacts Detroit Red Wings, Andreas Athanasiou. [Detroit Free Press]

• Five women who should be inducted next into the Hockey Hall of Fame. [Sporting News]

• Kris Versteeg asked to be released from his contract with the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. [NBC Sports Chicago]

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes are benefitting from the addition of assistant coach Phil Housley. [NHL.com]

• Looking at the best and worst in the history of Flyers jerseys. [Hockey by Design]

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Avalanche furious over referee decision to not stop play after Calvert injury

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Thanks to huge performances from Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar on Saturday night, the Colorado Avalanche were able to pick up a 5-4 overtime win in Vancouver to gain a little more ground on the first place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.

Makar continued to look like an emerging superstar with four points, while MacKinnon looked like an MVP candidate with two goals, including a highlight reel coast-to-coast goal in overtime to win it.

One of the biggest reasons the game even made it to overtime was because of a late third period rally by the Canucks that saw them score two goals in the final three minutes. The manner in which the Canucks scored the first of those two goals left the Avalanche completely livid.

It all happened after forward Matt Calvert was struck in the side head by an Elias Pettersson shot from point-blank range and remained down on the ice, bleeding from his head. The on-ice officials allowed play to continue and it ultimately resulted in Alex Edler scoring to bring to the Canucks to within one.

You can the sequence in the video above.

Here is the rule that is relevant to why play was allowed to continue:

When a player is injured so that he cannot continue play or go to his bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured control of the puck. If the player’s team is in control of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately unless his team is in a scoring position.

In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the referee and/or linesman may stop the play immediately.

The Avalanche never regained position of the puck during that sequence so play was allowed to continue. The last part of the rule is what is most relevant to this situation because it brings up a very important question: If a player bleeding from their head isn’t enough to be considered a serious injury to immediately stop play, what is?

The Avalanche were understandably angry, with defenseman Erik Johnson having the harshest words, via The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark.

“It’s a [expletive] joke. You want to protect a guy? Guy’s got a family at home, he’s laying there bleeding out of his head and you don’t blow the whistle? It’s a complete joke. An absolute joke. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Said head coach Jared Bednar: “That’s the second time in two weeks a guy takes a puck to the face and is bleeding all over the ice. Sometimes it’s a tough call to make, but in that situation, you should’ve blown it dead.”

During an appearance on Sportsnet with Scott Oake after the game MacKinnon took it in a different direction and played the “What if it was LeBron James?” card.

“I can only imagine if that was LeBron James, his head was bleeding and they let the other team take a three-pointer to tie the game,” said MacKinnon. “I know it’s not the ref’s fault, it’s the league rule, but I think you need to look and who’s laying on the ice.”

The rule is what it is (and one that probably needs to be re-examined, especially if you are serious about player safety), but there is still that segment of it that does give the referees the option to stop play. That brings it back to the question mentioned above — what sort of injury is considered serious enough to warrant a whistle?

This is not the first time something like this has happened. During the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a game-tying goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets after Zach Werenski was struck in the face by a puck and remained down on the ice bleeding. Play was not stopped, resulting in a Bryan Rust goal.

UPDATE:

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.