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Avs blank Stars 4-0, eye No. 1 seed

Avalanche

Pavel Francouz made 27 saves and became the first goalie in Avs history to post a shutout in his first postseason game as Colorado dominated Dallas 4-0 in the teams’ second of three round-robin games on Wednesday in Edmonton.

Rookie Cale Makar got the scoring started just 3:19 into the first period on the power play. Joonas Donskoi later scored just after an Avs’ power play ended to give Colorado a 2-0 lead. Vladislav Namestnikov scored late in the second period and Andre Burakovsky added the final tally early in the third.

Colorado faces the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (time to be determined) and with a win would earn the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

  • TheAthletic.com’s Ryan S. Clark wrote about what the Avs will do throughout the rest of the playoffs with two goalies in Francouz and Philipp Grubauer who have both looked very sharp in Colorado’s first two games.
    My thoughts: In hockey you almost always have a clear No. 1 goalie, so the idea of going with two during the playoffs just feels weird. But the reality of the matter is it’s worked with the Avs so far, so what’s wrong with sticking with it. And if one guy gets hot or goes cold then you can make an adjustment, but until then, don’t try to fix what’s not broken.
  • TheDNVR’s Evan Rawal handed out grades to the Avs after the victory over the Stars.
  • Unfortunately, The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla was forced to write about how ridiculous it is that so many fans in Colorado still can not watch the Nuggets and Avs because of Altitude not being able to reach an agreement with Comcast and Dish Network.

Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. had his second straight 30-point game as the Nuggets rallied to beat San Antonio 132-126 on Wednesday afternoon in Orlando. Porter finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and made five threes in Denver’s second straight win.

The Nuggets also got another solid game from center Nikola Jokić who finished with 25 points and 11 assists. Monte Morris, starting in place of injured Jamal Murray had 19 points, four assists and zero turnovers. Both Jerami Grant (22 points) and P.J. Dozier (12 points and eight assists) led the Nuggets off the bench.

Denver is in third place in the Western Conference standings at 45-23, two games clear of fourth place Utah and just a half game behind the Clippers. The Nuggets are back in action tonight as they face Portland at 6 p.m. (Altitude, 92.5 FM).

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Porter became the first rookie to score 65 points while shooting 65% or better and grab at least 25 rebounds in back-to-back games since Shaquille O’Neal in 1993.
    My thoughts: Stats like this are fun, but also not really accurate at this point. While technically still a rookie this is more like Porter’s third season than his first. He basically took a medical redshirt Year 1, and then with the four-month layoff this season due to COVID-19 it’s hard to really consider him a rookie. Either way he’s been fun to watch and if he keeps it up this year and going forward the Nuggets should be serious championship contenders.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Adam Mares broke down the play of Grant and looked at how he shows off an under-utilized skill.

Rockies

Nolan Arenado homered in his third straight game, but it wasn’t enough as Colorado’s four-game winning streak was snapped with a 4-3 loss to the Giants on Wednesday night at Coors Field.

Starter Jon Gray pitched well (six innings, three earned runs), but Brandon Belt tagged him for a three-run home run in the fourth inning and San Francisco added another run in the six to pick up the win.

  • Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to nine games and is hitting .378 this season, especially impressive when you remember he missed the start of Summer Camp due to a battle with COVID-19.
  • The Rockies and Giants finish off their four-game series this afternoon (1:10 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) with Kyle Freeland taking on the Giants’ Tyler Anderson, a former first-round pick of the Rockies.
  • Freeland is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA after two starts this year, and one of the reasons for his early-season success has been throwing more changeups.
  • Reliever Wade Davis, who was placed on the injured list with a right shoulder strain, has not yet begun throwing and continues to receive treatment.

Broncos

There’s no question the Broncos are going to be very reliant on young players this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. TheDNVR.com’s Andrew Mason looked at how Courtland Sutton and the rest of the offensive will attempt to build some chemistry, especially with the impact coronavirus has had on everything.

  • Along very much the same lines, PFF.com’s Sam Monson looked at whether Denver can challenge this year, with so much of a dependance on young players.
  • Over at TheAthletic.com Sheil Kapadia ranked all the NFL offenses from 1-32. Where’d the Broncos check in? How about 27th, one spot down from where they had them ranked last year. Clearly Kapadia believes the Broncos youth is a detriment, not a blessing.

CU Buffs

In some very sad news long-time CU Buffs fan Betty Hoover died Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Hoover was 95 years old.

She, along with her twin sister Peggy Coppom, have been iconic fans at Buffs games for 80 years. She will be missed.

CSU Rams

Colorado State’s football scheduled was revealed, kind of, on Wednesday. Assuming it happens, the Rams will play eight conference games, with the opener coming the week of Sept. 26. CSU’s lone remaining non-conference game vs. Northern Colorado is now in limbo. As for who they’ll actual face? According to The Denver Post story, the scheduling models for the Mountain West Conference season remain “under consideration.”

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Rockies win, tie best start in team history

Rockies

Germán Márquez allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine and Nolan Arenado homered in his second straight game as the Rockies beat the Giants 5-2 on Tuesday night at Coors Field.

With the win Colorado is now 8-2 on the season matching the team’s best start in franchise history. The Rockies also started 2011 8-2, but stumbled to a 73-89 finish.

Despite his final line, manager Bud Black actually didn’t think Márquez was as sharp as he’s been this year, which speaks to how good he has become.

“I don’t think he was as sharp as we’ve seen him. I don’t think the fastball was as crisp, but he made pitches with the fastball, the secondaries were solid. From start to finish, I thought he was in complete control.”

Manger Bud Black talking about starting pitcher Germán Márquez

My thoughts: In a normal season an 8-2 start wouldn’t mean a whole lot, as evidenced by the Rockies in 2011. But this year it means the Rockies are in prime position to make the postseason.

It’s easier said than done, but with only 50 games remaining if Colorado plays .500 ball for the rest of the year they’ll finish 33-27 and almost assuredly qualify for the expanded postseason.

The most encouraging aspect so far has been the outstanding starting pitching from Márquez, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela.

  • The Rockies and Giants are back at it again tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) with Gray getting the start for Colorado and Logan Webb making the start for San Francisco.
  • Before Tuesday’s game Black told The Denver Post that pitcher Jeff Hoffman could get more opportunities out of the bullpen or even potentially starting if he continues to pitch well.
  • MLB.com released its Top 100 Prospects List and the Rockies had two players on it. Shortstop Brendan Rodgers (31) and outfielder Zac Veen (60).

Nuggets

The Nuggets take on the San Antonio Spurs this afternoon (2 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the team’s third seeding game since the NBA’s return. They’ll be shorthanded once again though as Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) are both out and Jamal Murray (hamstring) is questionable.

With that in mind Denver will need big contributions from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. once again if they’re going to keep the momentum going after Monday’s overtime win against the Thunder.

  • Today’s Nuggets-Spurs game is one of a handful that will be broadcast by NBABet Stream and will follow the game with the betting public in mind.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind wrote about how the chemistry between Jokic and Porter is getting better and better.

Avalanche

The Avs are back on the ice today against Dallas (4:30 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the second of three round-robin games before their playoffs began. Colorado is 0-4 against the Stars this season, but the last time the teams met was Jan. 14.

“They’re obviously a good hockey team (and) I think everyone in our room is aware of the troubles we might have had with them in the past and I think everyone is very determined to try to end them (Wednesday). If you want to talk about the law of averages, I guess we’re due, right?”

Avs defenseman Ian Cole told The Denver Post

Currently the Avs and Vegas Golden Knights are tied in the race for the West’s top seed. If there is a tie after the three round-robin games, then regular-season winning percentage will serve as the tiebreaker. That order was St. Louis (.662), Colorado (.657), Vegas (.606) and Dallas (.594).

Broncos

Linebacker Von Miller spoke about a variety of topics on Tuesday, from how he gave “serious consideration” to opting out this year because of coronavirus concerns to how the death of Kobe Bryant and “The Last Dance” changed him.

Miller tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April and said by early May he had lost 15 pounds.

“It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus. Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite. As soon as I got my second negative (test result) back, I started back training and started back running and it was tough no doubt about it. It was tough to just warm up, but I pushed through it and at about 2-3 weeks, I started to feel back to normal and hit it a little harder. I would say about two weeks after the virus, you still have a little wind issues, but that was for me – I have asthma and I felt like that was part of that.”

Von Miller on his battle and return from COVID-19 this offseason

As for dealing with Bryant’s death, Miller talked about reading Bryant’s book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play after and wanting to be able to lead his team in a similar fashion.

“Then ‘The Last Dance’ came out and I watched what Michael Jordan was doing back in his prime and I asked myself, ‘Hey, Michael Jordan was the best that ever played. Was I really making that commitment to the game? Was I really doing the same stuff he did? Like Kobe was one of the best to ever play. Was I doing the things that Kobe was doing? Was I demanding more out of my teammates? Was I demanding more out of myself? And I looked in the mirror and said I wasn’t. I just tried to change that and work as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t take any days off. I didn’t go on any vacations. I didn’t do anything but workout and grind and reinvest all of the time I would usually spend on like endorsements and all of this other stuff. I just reinvested that time back on myself.”

Von Miller talking about his offseason

My thoughts: There’s no question Miller has trained differently this offseason, the only question is how it will translate on the field. And that’s even assuming we have a football season.

It’s been great watching Miller learn and grow from the time the Broncos drafted him up until now, it would be great if he’s able to get back to the top of his game and eventually retire with the Broncos.

CSU Rams

Colorado State president Joyce McConnell is launching an “immediate and objective” investigation into the athletic department after allegations that student-athletes have been intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols.

CSU suspended football activities last week after a coronavirus outbreak. Then yesterday, multiple Rams players told ESPN.com that a position coach told players to hide possible symptoms of COVID-19 because “we can’t afford it” as a team.

According to the ESPN.com story: As the numbers continued to grow, some players felt compelled to minimize their symptoms, according to multiple people within the program. One source said a player who had a severe cough and eventually tested positive continued to work out. Another source said a player with symptoms, who subsequently tested positive, was “scared” to mention them to the coaching and medical staff.

TheColoradoan.com also published a story yesterday detailing the potential covering up of the COVID-19 health threat.

My thoughts: Multiple CSU players have come out to dispute the reports, but the fact that the ESPN.com story specifically says it was a position coach who was discouraging players makes it that much more believable to me.

Not only do I trust the reporting from ESPN and The Coloradoan, but if it was one or two coaches it would make sense that not all the players would have experienced the same thing.

Either way it’s a terrible situation and one that these athletes should not have to be dealing with. On Wednesday morning UConn announced it was canceling its football season due to COVID-19, the first FBS team to do so. At this point I don’t understand why colleges refuse to push the season back until spring at the very least, instead of continuing to put people’s lives at risk.

High school sports

CHSAA announced on Tuesday that the high school football season in Colorado would be pushed back until spring due to coronavirus.

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Rockies win opening series in Texas

Rockies

Kyle Freeland pitched six innings, and allowed two runs as the Rockies beat the Rangers 5-2 on Sunday. With the win Colorado won the opening series over the Rangers, having won two of three games.

It took awhile, but the Rockies hit their first home runs of the season on Sunday as shortstop Trevor Story connected on a two-run shot in the fourth inning and added a solo homer in the sixth.

My thoughts: It’s tough to read too much into any single series of a baseball season, but at least through three games Colorado’s pitching was outstanding. The Rockies held Texas to five total runs in the series.

On the flip side, the offensive’s struggles are pretty concerning as Colorado only managed eight runs in the series and was shutout in the opener.

  • The Rockies are off today before playing a two-game series in Oakland on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then comes another off day before the Rockies home opener on Friday vs. the Padres.
    Antonio Senzatela is scheduled to make his first art of the season on Tuesday vs. the A’s.
  • Righty-handed reliever Scott Oberg is doubtful of being able to come off the IL in time for the home opener.
  • TheAthletic.com had a nice breakdown of the opening series, including why rookie Brendan Rodgers didn’t make the team and is now working out at Metro State.

Nuggets

The NBA is back starting this week. The season is scheduled to resume on Thursday, while the Nuggets first game back is Saturday vs. the Miami Heat (11 a.m., Altitude, 950 AM).

Denver plays its final scrimmage tonight against Orlando (5 p.m., Altitude) before the eight-game seeding games begin.

  • On Saturday the Nuggets lost to the Pelicans 119-104 in a scrimmage, but it’s extremely hard to judge where the team is right now since in that game they were without: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap.
    My thoughts: Chances are, with there not being any home-court advantage in the bubble, the Nuggets, along with most teams, will be more focused on getting ready for the playoffs than simply winning games during the seeding round.
    Even before the break head coach Michael Malone seemed to be constantly struggling with figuring out a rotation and getting everyone enough minutes. That’s not going to change going forward, especially with Bol Bol playing well right now.
    The goal needs to be figuring out an eight- or nine-man rotation that Malone can trust when the playoffs start.
  • The Denver Post talked with Bol’s trainer and he said Bol’s basketball IQ is what sets him apart.

Avalanche

The Avs announced their 31-player roster, as did all remaining NHL teams on Sunday. If there was any surprise for Colorado it was that forward Vladislav Kamenev did not make the squad. Kamenev had played a career-most 38 games this season.

Colorado did keep a trio of young players, forward Shane Bowers and defensemen Connor Timmins and Bowen Byram.

Colorado’s playoff seeding games begin Sunday, Aug. 2 against the St. Louis Blues.

Broncos

The Denver Post continued its breakdown of the Broncos by position. This weekend the focus was on the offensive line and the team’s receiving corps.

My thoughts: Man, these are two groups that not only could make or break the entire season, but I think could really range anywhere from a major strength to a major weakness.

Along the offensive line Garrett Bolles gets all the attention, but at least he plays just about every week. There’s just no telling what to expect from right tackle Ja’Wuan James this season. And while Denver has done exceptionally well with drafting centers, it still is concerning if Lloyd Cushenberry is the starter in his rookie season, particularly in a season that might not include any preseason games.

As for the receivers, Courtland Sutton has all the makings of a No. 1, but behind him it gets pretty murky.

I think the Broncos got a steal in Jerry Jeudy in the first round, but rookie wideouts oftentimes struggle in their first year, Sutton is a perfect example. Second-round pick K.J. Hamler is in the exact same boat. Maybe both players will be great from the get-go, but it’s much more likely they both have some growing pains this season.

If everything goes right with the two position groups it could allow the offensive to start approaching the levels we saw with Peyton Manning in the shotgun, but just a couple hiccups and they’ll be average under 20 points per game yet again.

Rapids

The Rapids are left searching for answers after a very disappointing MLS is Back Tournament that saw them sent packing after just three games (0-2-1).

CU Buffs

It was announced over the weekend that legendary CU ski coach Richard Rokos will retire following the 2020-21 season. The coming season will be Rokos 31st leading the CU program that has won eight team national titles and 43 individual ones.

Golf

The CoBank Colorado Open wrapped up on Sunday with Mark Anguiano taking home the $100,000 first-place check after shooting a tournament record 29-under par.

Nationally

The Miami Marlins game scheduled for Monday has been postponed as multiple Marlins players have tested positive for COVID-19.