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Avalanche

Hutchinson, MacKinnon lead Avs to Game 7

Michael Hutchinson stopped 27-of-28 shots and Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 14 games with a goal and an assists as the Avalanche beat the Stars 4-1 Wednesday night to force a Game 7 in the teams’ Western Conference semifinals series.

It marks the first time in Colorado has ever forced a Game 7 after being down 3-1 in a playoff series. Game 7 is scheduled for Friday night, with the time of the game yet to be announced.

“We battled back, had a good second (period) and really locked it down in the third. We were really responsible defensively. No turnovers, and just a solid game from everyone in the lineup.”

MacKinnon said after the Avs’ win.

How the Avs won

Colorado fell behind late in the first period when Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen scored with 2:25 seconds to play. Colorado answered with arguably the biggest goal of the game when Nikita Zadorov scored with only 32 seconds to go, sending the teams into the first intermission locked up at 1-1.

Cale Makar scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal at the 7:48 mark of the second period on assists from Mikko Rantanen and Sam Girard. Makar was crashing the net after a shot attempt by Girard. The rebound came to Rantanen who flip it to Makar. Makar promptly banged the puck off the face mask of Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin and into the net.

Colorado got a big insurance goal early in the third period when MacKinnon delivered a picture-perfect pass over the stick of a Stars defender and Rantanen hammered it past a sprawling Khudobin. MacKinnon scored the final goal late in the period after Dallas had pulled Khudobin for an extra attacker.

Makar makes history

Makar’s goal in the second period gave him 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) so far in the postseason, setting a new record for the most points by a rookie defenseman in the NHL playoffs.

“For these past two games, our mindset has changed. We have a team that’s going to fight until the end.”

Makar said after Game 6

It is obviously a great accomplishment for Makar, but one that’s a little misleading if we’re being honest. Makar played in 10 playoff games last season for Colorado and then 57 regular season games this season. Add in the five-month layoff during the pandemic and simply put it’s hard to consider him a rookie at this point.

Hutchinson saves Avs’ season

As The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote, Hutchinson, Colorado’s third-string goalie, has become the most unlikely of miracle workers in Denver sports since Tim Tebow.

“The whole entire situation … is absurd and surreal.”

Hutchinson said.

Through the first four games of the series Dallas was averaging almost five goals a game. But since Hutchinson replaced Pavel Francouz in net, who had replaced an injured Philipp Grubauer, the Stars have managed just four goals total in Games 5 and 6.

There’s not telling how long the magic will last, but in a year that has seen plenty of disappointments, Hutchinson gives hope to any of us struggling out there. He had this to say when asked if he worried he’d never get his shot:

“Numerous times in my career. My career has been a long journey … There’s always moments when you get sent down that you think you’re never going to play another NHL game.”

Avs history in Game 7s

After being down 3-1 in the series, the Avs have accomplished something just by getting to a winner-take-all game. Now the real challenge becomes winning it.

The Avs are 4-7 in Game 7s since moving from Quebec to Colorado prior to the 1995-96 season, including losing last year to San Jose in Game 7 in the second round last year. In fact Colorado has lost the past four Game 7s its played in. The Avs last Game 7 victory came in the Western Conference semifinals against the Sharks back in 2002.

“In terms of Game 7, it’s my third one. I guess I haven’t won one yet. Looking to change that in a couple days here. Excited for the challenge. It’s going to be the toughest game for us to win.”

MacKinnon had to say after Wednesday night’s game.

Dallas has lost the past three Games 7s it has played in, including in last year’s playoffs. The Stars got bounced in semifinals as well, when St. Louis knocked them off 2-1 in double overtime.

“I mean, we all know what happened last year. We were in this position, a chance to win it in Game 6, on home ice. Technically, you could say tonight was home ice. Game 7, we lost last year. So we have a chance to redeem ourselves. I definitely do think, as an organization, we’ve been trending in the right way, and this is the next step. It’s going to be a big one for us in a couple of days.”

Dallas forward Tyler Seguin said.

Game 6 highlights

Highlights from Colorado’s 4-1 win in Game 6 against the Star

Avalanche-Stars series results and schedule

GameResult
Game 1Dallas 5, Colorado 3Box score
Game 2Dallas 5, Colorado 2Box score
Game 3Colorado 6, Dallas 4Box score
Game 4Dallas 5, Colorado 4Box score
Game 5Colorado 6, Dallas 3Box score
Game 6Colorado 4, Dallas 1Box score
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
DateTime (MT)Home teamTV
Fri., Sept. 42 p.m.ColoradoUSA
All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

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Categories
Avalanche

Five-goal first period keeps Avs’ hopes alive

The Avalanche scored five goals in the first period, including four in a span of 2:36, on Monday night to beat the Stars 6-3 and avoid elimination. Colorado still trails the best-of-seven series 3-2 with Game 6 scheduled for Wednesday night at 6 p.m. (NBCSN).

The Avs turned to their third starting goaltender of the series on Monday as Michael Hutchinson, acquired at the trade deadline, got the start. It was Hutchinson’s first start in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Second-string goalie Pavel Francouz, who had started the previous three games after Philip Grubauer was injured, was deemed “unfit to play.”

“It’s what you work for as a kid, and you dream about when playing in the backyard, is to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I was excited and looking forward to the opportunity.”

Hutchinson said after the game.

Scoring barage

As for Colorado’s offense, it set club records for goals (five) and shots (23) in any playoff period. The four goals in 2:36, that was just one second shy of the NHL playoff record, set by Montreal back in 1944. All of it added up to a 5-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare got things started 4:37 into the opening period and then the blitz began a little over halfway though the period. Here’s how it looked on the scoresheet:

  • Andre Burakovsky, 11:51
  • Nathan MacKinnon, 12:32
  • Kazem Kadri, 13:43
  • Mikko Rantanen, 14:27

After Kadri’s goal Dallas replaced Ben Bishop who was making his first start of the series. In all Bishop allowed four goals on 15 shots. He was replaced by Anton Khudobin who finished the game with two goals allowed on 20 shots.

“We were shooting a lot of pucks, we were going to the net, we were making it tough for (Bishop). Tough start for him to not being able to play for a while and to come in and face a lot of shots. I think we did a really good job there.”

Burakovsky said of his team’s play in the first period.

In all 13 of Colorado’s 18 skaters had a point, and MacKinnon extended his NHL best point streak to 13 games with a goal and an assist.

Highlights from the Avs 6-3 win in Game 5 on Monday night.

One-timers

The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote that if defense is what’s needed to win championships then this year’s Avs team has zero chance to win the Stanley Cup … but at least it’s a fun ride with MacKinnon and company.

Avs-Stars series results and schedule

GameResult
Game 1Dallas 5, Colorado 3Box score
Game 2Dallas 5, Colorado 2Box score
Game 3Colorado 6, Dallas 4Box score
Game 4Dallas 5, Colorado 4Box score
Game 5Colorado 6, Dallas 3Box score
Game 6Colorado 4, Dallas 1Box score
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
DateTime (MT)Home teamTV
Fri., Sept. 42 p.m.ColoradoUSA
All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

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Avalanche

After Game 4 loss, Avs facing elimination tonight

For the third time in four games the Stars scored five goals en route to beating the Avalanche 5-4 on Sunday afternoon to put Colorado on the brink of elimination.

Dallas now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 with Game 5 tonight at 7:45 p.m. (NBCSN).

Offense not the issue

Colorado has scored 15 goals through four games against Dallas, the problem obviously is the fact that they have allowed a stunning 19 goals against so far.

“It feels like they score in bunches right now. They’re very opportunistic. Obviously, some of that’s on us. When they get one, they get two or three right now. We got to limit that. You know, the series isn’t over. We’re going to be ready for Game 5.”

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon said after the game.

The deciding goal in Sunday’s game was scored after defenseman Cale Makar and starting goalie Pavel Francouz fumbled with the puck and turned it over in front of the net where Dallas’ Denis Gurianov knocked it in to put the Stars ahead 5-2 less than halfway through the third period.

At that point Francouz was pulled for third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson.

As much as the defense and play in net have been an issue, the amount of penalties Colorado is taking and what Dallas is doing with its power-play opportunities has been just as crucial. The Stars went 3-for-6 on the power play in Game 4.

“It’s the penalties that we’re taking and their power play is feeding their offense and their energy right now. We take a couple penalties early and they capitalize on them. I give our team credit for battling back and scratching and clawing through the second period, but, I say it all the time — catch up hockey is losing hockey. We got to have a better start than that and (fewer) penalties. They’re too dangerous. We got to stay out of the box.”

Avs coach Jared Bednar said after the loss.

No help coming for Colorado

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers wrote that the Avs won’t be getting defenseman Erik Johnson or forwards Matt Calvert and Joonas Donskoi back for tonight’s Game 5. And starting goalie Philipp Grubauer likely is done for the series, if not the entire postseason.

MacKinnon keeps streaking

With an assist on Makar’s second period goal MacKinnon extended his playoff point streak to 12 games. It’s the longest in club history and the longest in the NHL since 2010 with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews scored in 13 straight games and Detroit’s Johan Franzen scored in 12 in a row.

One-timers

The Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote how Makar’s “blunder for the ages” defines this playoff series for the Avs.

My thoughts: It was a bad play, but to call it a blunder for the ages is extreme. I can remember Patrick Roy making a similar mistake during a playoff series years ago. And the fact is this one felt more like a miscommunication between Makar and Francouz than anything else. A bad mistake sure, but not one that will life in infamy next to Rahim Moore and Bill Buckner.

  • TheDNVR.com’s Evan Rawal handed out his player grades after the game and not surprisingly there were plenty of Ds and Fs handed out.
  • The Avs managed to block just nine shots Sunday, while the Stars were credited with 22.

Avs-Stars series results and schedule

GameResult
Game 1Dallas 5, Colorado 3Box score
Game 2Dallas 5, Colorado 2Box score
Game 3Colorado 6, Dallas 4Box score
Game 4Dallas 5, Colorado 4Box score
Stars lead best-of-seven series 3-1
DateTime (MT)Home teamTV
Mon., Aug. 317:45 p.m.ColoradoNBCSN
*Wed., Sept. 2TBDDallasTBD
*Fri., Sept. 4TBDColoradoTBD
*If necessary, all games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

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Avalanche

Avs blow third-period lead, battle back to win

Colorado started the third period with a two-goal lead (3-1), but surrendered three goals and trailed Dallas by one (4-3) with less than 10 minutes to go play on Wednesday night. Suddenly the Avalanche’s season was on the precipice of ending, that was until Colorado got goals from Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to rally and beat the Stars 6-4.

Instead of being down an almost insurmountable 3-0 hole, the Avs are in a much more manageable spot at 2-1 behind in the Western Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. (NBCSN).

As for how Colorado managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, here’s what Kadri, who scored the game winner, had to say afterward:

“It’s just composure. As a team we got good leaders and just focusing on the end result. We play to the last whistle. I think that has been pretty evident thus far in the playoffs. We never really think the game’s over until it actually is over. Obviously, we’re not happy giving up that lead and we gotta lock it down and play better. But coming up with wins and knowing inside that locker room we still have more to give.”

In all six goals were scored during the wild third period that actually ended exactly how it all began, with the Avs leading by two.

How we got there

Dallas scored the first goal of the game when Tyler Seguin snuck one past Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz just over midway through the first period. The teams went to intermission with Dallas leading 1-0.

Colorado didn’t take long to answer in the second as Nikita Zadorov scored just one minute into the period on an assist from Kadri. Less than four minutes late Andre Burakovsky’s goal put the Avs in front. And with exactly nine minutes to play in the second Gabriel Landeskog scored to give Colorado the two-goal cushion.

What’s next for Colorado?

As TheAthletic.com’s Ryan S. Clark wrote, despite the win in Game 3 Colorado still has more questions than answers due to the blown lead in the third period.

“For us, it’s gut check time. It’s not how we drew it up going into the third period like that. We get some unfortunate bad breaks but I think we just stuck to it. We stuck to our game plan and we trusted that it would pull through. … I know everybody believes in this group. It’s just being able to go out and execute.”

Colorado’s defenseman Cale Makar said after the game.

Meanwhile, fellow defenseman Zadorov was injured during the game and was unable to play in the third period, his status for Friday’s Game 4 is yet to be determined. Before getting injured Zadorov was having a great game, as head coach Jared Bednar reference during his postgame press conference.

“I give our guys all the props for fighting through those injuries today. And for Zadorov, I thought the way we wanted our D to step up and play a better game and he was a guy we needed more out of. We had some conversations over the last few days and we moved him with Girard. I thought he was outstanding. Huge impact in the game. Physically engaged. In on a couple games. There was no rest on his game. It was hard. It was impactful on a shift-to-shift basis. That’s what we needed.”

Bednar said after the Avs’ 6-4 win Wednesday night in Edmonton.

Players address boycotts, racial injustice

After the game Avalanche players addressed the boycotts that took place in the NBA playoffs and various Major League Baseball games Wednesday night, as well as racial injustice as a whole in our country, as detailed by The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers.

“This is a problem that has gone on far too long. The signs and hockey (operations team) is great and everything but eventually words get stale and it’s about action and making a difference.”

Kadri said of American police shooting Black civilians.

“For us, it’s a matter where a lot of players and a lot of superstars in this league have spoken out, and put out statements through their channels and used their platform to voice their opinions which is sometimes a little bit unusual for hockey players who like to stay private. But this has gone on way too long for this country and it needs to change. What the next steps from here are, I’m not sure. I don’t have those answers, but I think as a hockey community we stay tight-nit and at this point, I think we all support change in this country.”

Landeskog said.

Bednar wasn’t actually aware of what was going on in the other sports until he arrived at Rogers Place.

“I wasn’t watching any TV or really around on social media before the game. I can’t comment on what everyone was thinking. No players had come to me and said, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about not playing’ or anything. So it was kind of business as usual in our room. Obviously, now, having got the backstories and the stories from the NBA players not playing, I thought about it and if our players, even one player, had come to me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think we should play’ we would have addressed it as a team. But I never got word from anyone in our room and the league hadn’t said that the players were thinking about not playing. So it was just (about) staying focused and business as usual.”

One-timers

  • Nathan MacKinnon had two assists in the game, stretching his postseason scoring streak to 11 games and breaking the Avs’ franchise record that had been held by Joe Sakic from back in 1996.
    MacKinnon’s 20 playoff points leads the NHL and is the most from a Colorado player since Peter Forsberg had 27 in 2002.
  • Colorado played without forwards Joonas Donskoi and Matt Calvert, defenseman Erik Johnson and goalie Philipp Grubauer in Game 3.

Avalanche-Stars results and schedule

GameResult
Game 1Dallas 5, Colorado 3Box score
Game 2Dallas 5, Colorado 2Box score
Game 3Colorado 6, Dallas 4Box score
Game 4Dallas 5, Colorado 4Box score
Game 5Colorado 6, Dallas 3Box score
Game 6Colorado 4, Dallas 1Box score
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
DateTime (MT)Home teamTV
Fri., Sept. 42 p.m.ColoradoUSA
All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

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Avalanche

Avs blow 2-0 lead in Game 2 loss vs. Stars

Colorado went from having a 2-0 lead midway through the second period to a facing a 4-2 deficit by the time the second intermission arrived, en route to a 5-2 loss to Dallas on Monday night in Edmonton. With the win the Stars now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 with Game 3 set for Wednesday night.

The Avalanche built up its 2-0 advantage thanks to a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon but when Dallas went on a two-man advantage in the second period everything fell apart for Colorado.

“We got the game in our hands there, really through the first 30 minutes of the game until they get a power play, and then I think it’s a soft call to get them a 5-on-3 for almost two minutes.”

Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog had to say after the game.

The Stars scored two power-play goals 63 seconds apart, one with a 5-on-3 advantage, the other at 5-on-4, to tie the score 2-2. Dallas scored twice more before the second period finally came to an end for the Avs, although the fourth goal wasn’t without controversy.

It was ruled on the ice that Dallas’ Esa Lindell scored with 46 seconds to go in the period, but upon video review it was not possible to confirm the puck ever crossed the goal line.

“That 4-2 goal, I don’t know how they’re going to explain this one. We’re still waiting for an explanation on this one. I don’t know how that’s going to happen. Either way, we got to find a way to get more scoring chances in the third.”

Landeskog said about the controversial goal.

Despite needing to win four of the next five games in the series, Landeskog and company are nowhere close to throwing in the towel.

“It’s a seven-game series for a reason. We feel, more than anything, we’re in this thing. We’ve been up 2-0 before and we know how quickly it can turn and all of a sudden it’s a tight series. So, for us, like I said, it’s a seven-game series for a reason and there’s no quit in this group.”

Landeskog said after the game.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Ryan S. Clark wrote in depth about how the Avs lost their 2-0 lead and why they couldn’t manage to get it back.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Evan Rawal handed out his player grades and lets just said Andre Burakovsky, Ryan Graves, Vladislav Namestnikov and J.T. Compher might need to do a little extra credit if they expect a passing grade at the end of the year.
  • The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers wrote about how Colorado’s scoring depth has suddenly dried up in the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals.
  • Avalanche-Stars results and schedule
GameResult
Game 1Dallas 5, Colorado 3Box score
Game 2Dallas 5, Colorado 2Box score
Game 3Colorado 6, Dallas 4Box score
Game 4Dallas 5, Colorado 4Box score
Game 5Colorado 6, Dallas 3Box score
Game 6Colorado 4, Dallas 1Box score
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
DateTime (MT)Home teamTV
Fri., Sept. 42 p.m.ColoradoUSA
All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

Categories
Avalanche Broncos Nuggets Rockies

Avs rout Coyotes, advance to semifinals

Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and two assists, Nazem Kadri added two goals of his own and Philipp Grubauer stopped all but one shot as the Avs ousted the Coyotes with a resounding 7-1 win Wednesday in Edmonton.

Colorado won Games 4 and 5 of the first-round series by identical 7-1 scores, contests that were much different than the tight opening three games.

Next up for the Avs is a matchup with either Dallas, St. Louis or Vancouver in the Western Conference semifinals. If Dallas wins its series with Calgary, the Stars will be the opponent. If the Flames win then Colorado will face the winner of the Blues-Canucks series.

Dallas currently leads Calgary 3-2, while St. Louis and Vancouver are tied 2-2.

As for Wednesday’s game, it marked the first time in team history Colorado has scored seven goals or more in back-to-back playoff games and the 22 total goals is the most for the Avs in a five-game playoff series.

“Our time has arrived. We haven’t won anything but it’s definitely a different feel after winning this series. We’re a hungry group.”

MacKinnon said after his team’s 7-1 win.
GameResult
Game 1Colorado 3, Arizona 0Box score
Game 2Colorado 3, Arizona 2Box score
Game 3Arizona 4, Colorado 2Box score
Game 4Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Game 5Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Colorado wins best-of-seven series 4-1

Nuggets

Utah blitzed Denver from deep Wednesday, to the tune of 20 made threes, as the Jazz waltzed past the Nuggets 124-105 and evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Not only did the Jazz make a ton of threes in the game, they did so at an alarming rate of 45%, which unfortunately is the same percentage the Nuggets gave up during the eight seeding games.

“I think it’s a matter of executing the game plan, knowing who you’re guarding, understanding the flow of the game, communication. I’m sure when we watch the film it will be all of the above, to your question.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said when asked what his team can do to slow the Jazz’s three-point shooting barrage.

Utah was once again led by Donovan Mitchell who finished with 30 points on 6-for-7 shooting from deep. Denver was led by Nikola Jokić and Michael Porter Jr. who each finished with 28 points. The only other Nuggets who scored in double figures were Jamal Murray (14) and Monte Morris (10).

The teams are off today before Game 3 on Friday at 2 p.m. (TNT, Altitude).

GameResult
Game 1Denver 135, Utah 125, OTBox Score
Game 2Utah 124, Denver 105Box score
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
DateTime (MT)Channels
Fri., Aug. 212 p.m.TNT, Altitude
Sun., Aug. 237 p.m.TNT, Altitude
Tue., Aug. 25TBDTBD, Altitude
*Thur., Aug. 27TBDTBD, Altitude
Sat., Aug. 29TBDTBD, Altitude
*If necessary, all games played on neutral court in Orlando

Rockies

The Rockies returned home Wednesday, but the results stayed the same as the Astros beat Colorado for the third day in a row, this time by a final score of 13-6.

Colorado has now lost eight of its past 10 games and third baseman Nolan Arenado saw his average fall to .225 after going 0-for-3 Wednesday.

  • Colorado and Houston finish their four-game, home-and-home series this afternoon (1:10 p.m., AT&T Sports Net) at Coors Field as Germán Márquez (2-3, 2.25 ERA) will try to end the Rockies skid against Houston’s Cristian Javier (2-1, 2.91 ERA).
  • In other news Wednesday the Rockies placed outfielder David Dahl on the 10-day IL due to lower back soreness. To take his place on the roster Colorado recalled top prospect Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers didn’t start, but did come on late and went 1-for-2 and drove in a pair of runs.
    My thoughts: The Rockies need to play Rodgers as much as possible. Put him at second base in place of Ryan McMahon who’s hitting .208 and see what he can do. The season is quickly slipping away, so see if Rodgers can provide a spark. It also would allow the club a chance to see how good Rodgers can be at in the majors.

Broncos

Tight end Jake Butt spoke to the media yesterday and talked about how his recovery from his third ACL tear has gone. Among other things he spoke about how he debated coming back at times during his recovery, but he’s now motivated to earn a spot on the Broncos roster.

  • I wrote yesterday how in the battle for the starting center job Austin Schlottmann has gotten the bulk of the work with the first time. Well, yesterday Schlottmann did start with the first team, but rookie Lloyd Cushenberry got his first chance working with the No. 1 offense later in practice.
  • TheDNVR’s Zac Stevens wrote about how rookies other than Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler are starting to step up.
  • Head coach Vic Fangio has been happy with what he’s seen from rookie linebacker Justin Strnad.

Around the globe

Forbes.com released its list of the high-paid female athletes for 2020, amazing the top nine women on the list are all tennis players. Surprisingly, at least to me, Serena Williams checked in at No. 2 on the list behind Naomi Osaka.

The only non-tennis player in the Top 10, at No. 10 is soccer’s Alex Morgan.

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Avalanche Broncos Nuggets Rockies

Bats silent again as Rockies lose 2-1 in extras

Rockies

Antonio Senzatela pitched arguably the best game of his major league career, but Colorado’s bats were dormant once again as the Rockies lost to the Astros 2-1 in 11 innings Tuesday in Houston.

Senzatela went toe-to-toe with Zack Greinke as both pitchers threw eight shutout innings allowing three hits a piece, Greinke struck out seven, Senzatela six.

Colorado’s offense has became a major liability at this point and after losing seven of their past nine games the Rockies are now four games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. The Rockies pitching staff owns the second-best ERA in the National League, but as has been the case the past few years the offense continues to struggle.

For the most part the problem is pretty simple, if Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl aren’t hitting the rest of the team can’t pick up the slack. And this year with both Arenado and Dahl struggling for most of the season to date the offense can’t manage to get the job done.

There is a chance the Rockies could add top prospect Brendan Rodgers to the active roster soon.

My thoughts: At this point I would love to see Rodgers play second base and move Ryan McMahon to first and DH or sit Daniel Murphy. Either way the Rockies have to do something soon or else this season’s promising start will be a distant memory by the time September rolls around.

  • The Astros and Rockies square off again tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) in Game 3 of the four-game series. Ryan Castellani (0-0, 1.04 ERA) takes the mound for Colorado against Houston’s Framber Valdez (1-2, 1.90 ERA).

Avalanche

Coming of a dominating 7-1 win on Monday the Avalanche will look to finish off the Coyotes in Game 5 today (3:30 p.m., NBCSN, Altitude, 92.5 FM) in Edmonton.

Nazem Kadri has been a key piece for the Avs since the NHL started back up. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a few weeks since his game-winning goal with 0.01 seconds remaining in the first game back against St. Louis.

Since then the Avs claimed the No. 2 seed in the West and have a 3-1 lead on Arizona, while St. Louis ended up the fourth seed and is currently tied 2-2 in its series with Vancouver. Oh what a difference a thousandth of a second can make.

  • Captain Gabriel Landeskog hasn’t scored a goal yet in Edmonton, but he’s confident he’ll get one soon. And in the meantime he’s creating plenty of scoring chances for the rest of his teammates.
  • Cale Makar said “it definitely means something to me” to see teammates like Nathan MacKinnon have his back after Makar was given a cheap shot near the end of Monday’s game.
  • Avalanche-Coyotes results and schedule
GameResult
Game 1Colorado 3, Arizona 0Box score
Game 2Colorado 3, Arizona 2Box score
Game 3Arizona 4, Colorado 2Box score
Game 4Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Game 5Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Colorado wins best-of-seven series 4-1

Nuggets

Denver once again will be without Gary Harris and Will Barton when the Nuggets take on the Jazz today in Game 2 of their first-round series. Barton continues to deal with a knee injury and is out indefinitely.

As for the players who will be on the court for the Nuggets, The Denver Post’s Mike Singer wrote about how rookie Michael Porter Jr. got a crash course in what NBA playoff basketball is like in Game 1.

“In the playoffs, it’s all about defense. The defensive intensity is way up. So being locked in every possession and really realizing every possession matters (is important).”

Porter said about the Nuggets’ 135-125 OT win.

Despite appearing to struggle at times on both ends of the court Porter still finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes in his playoff debut. Not bad for someone playing it just the 56th NBA game of his career.

“Just being out there, learning, going through it, you can’t put a dollar sign on that. That’s the best teacher that Michael is going to have. We can tell him, we can prepare him, but he has to go out there and feel it for himself and learn from it, which I know he will.”

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said about Porter’s debut.
GameResult
Game 1Denver 135, Utah 125, OTBox Score
Game 2Utah 124, Denver 105Box score
Game 3Utah 124, Denver 87Box score
Game 4Utah 129, Denver 127Box score
Game 5Denver 117, Utah 107Box score
Game 6Denver 1197, Utah 107Box score
Game 7Denver 80, Utah 78Box score
Nuggets win best-of-seven series tied 4-3

Broncos

As the Broncos prepare for the season opener Monday Sept. 14 against Tennessee one of the biggest position battles is that for the starting center job.

Denver has three players vying for the job and combined they have started zero games in the NFL at center. The Post’s Ryan O’Halloran wrote how as of right now it appears Austin Schlottmann has the edge over Patrick Morris and rookie Lloyd Cushenberry.

Ryan makes a great point that during a normal training camp and preseason teams like to ease rookies into starting roles and make them earn the job so to speak. But this year, with zero preseason games and a truncated camp it would make the most sense to have the guy you expect to start get as many reps with the first team as possible.

That’s why he believes Schlottmann has the inside track as he’s taken all the reps with the first team in three of the four workouts so far. Morris did so on Sunday and Cushenberry has not taken any so far.

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Avalanche Broncos CSU Rams Nuggets Rockies

Avs rout Coyotes, take 3-1 series lead

Avalanche

The Colorado offense exploded for seven goals in a 7-1 Game 4 rout of Arizona on Monday, leaving the Avalanche one game away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Matt Nieto got things started for the Avs late in the first period and then Nazem Kadri added two goals of his own before the first intermission to give Colorado a 3-0 lead. Joonas Donskoi added one in the second and then a trio of goals in the third came from Cale Makar, Matt Calvert and Mikko Rantanen as Colorado scored seven goals in a playoff game for the first time since 2002.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was almost single-handedly keeping the Coyotes in the series, was replaced to start the third period.

“It was nice to get a few past him. We didn’t change anything, honestly. We just got some bounces. We know we’re one of the best goal-scoring teams in the league this year, so try to stick with it. We’re such a deep team that eventually it was going to go in.”

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon said about Kuemper.

The Avs will try to close out the series on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN, Altitude, 92.5 FM).

  • MacKinnon got into a scuffle late in the game with Arizona’s Christian Fischer after Makar was roughed up on a dangerous hit by Lawson Crouse. MacKinnon threw Fischer to the ice and delivered a couple punches as well, Calvert had this to say about the fight:
    “I think Fischer cross-checked the wrong guy in the face. You saw what Nate did to him. He absolutely manhandled him. Probably could have thrown 10 punches and knocked him out. I’m glad he didn’t throw the punches … They try to get to him and he’s just bigger than them.”
  • The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers had five takeaways from Game 4, including how important Kadri has been to Colorado so far in the postseason.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Evan Rawal handed out his Game 4 grades, not surprisingly a lot of the Avs got pretty high marks.
  • Avalanche-Coyotes results and schedule
GameResult
Game 1Colorado 3, Arizona 0Box score
Game 2Colorado 3, Arizona 2Box score
Game 3Arizona 4, Colorado 2Box score
Game 4Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Game 5Colorado 7, Arizona 1Box score
Colorado wins best-of-seven series 4-1

Nuggets

Donovan Mitchell scored 57 points, the third most in NBA playoff history, but it wasn’t enough as Jamal Murray stole the show late and the Nuggets rallied to beat the Jazz 135-125 in overtime in Game 1 Monday.

Only Hall of Famers Michael Jordan (63) and Elgin Baylor (61) have scored more points in a single playoff game than Mitchell did.

Murray scored 36 points for Denver, including 10 in the extra period to help secure the win. As for Mitchell’s performance, when asked after the game Denver’s Nikola Jokić summed it up perfectly, “Not good for us.”

Fortunately, Jokić was plenty good for the Nuggets too, he finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the win. Jokić did miss a running hook shot at the end of regulation that would have won it for Denver.

But it was Murray who won this one for Denver. With less than four minutes to play in the fourth he had just 16 points, but during the final 8:13 of the game he went off for 20 points, grabbed three rebounds and added two assists.

“No fans, it was a lot of trash talking, good trash talking. It was fun, and that’s how us basketball players like it when you can go at each other respectfully and see who’s got more bullets.”

Murray said after the Nuggets thrilling Game 1 overtime win.

Game 2 of the series is Wednesday at 2 p.m. (TNT, Altitude).

GameResult
Game 1Denver 135, Utah 125, OTBox Score
Game 2Utah 124, Denver 105Box score
Game 3Utah 124, Denver 87Box score
Game 4Utah 129, Denver 127Box score
Game 5Denver 117, Utah 107Box score
Game 6Denver 1197, Utah 107Box score
Game 7Denver 80, Utah 78Box score
Nuggets win best-of-seven series tied 4-3

Rockies

Left Kyle Freeland continued his redemption tour with a solid six-inning outing in Houston, but the Rockies offense managed just two hits in a 2-1 loss to the Astros on Monday night.

Freeland now has quality starts in all five of his outings this season, tied for the second-longest streak to begin a season in franchise history. He’s got a long way to go to catch the record holder though, that would be Ubaldo Jiménez who had 14 in a row to start the 2010 season.

Colorado’s lone run came on a solo homer by Trevor Story in the third inning. It also was Colorado’s only hit until Charlie Blackmon led off the ninth with a single.

“It hurts when (Freeland) goes out there and does his job and the bullpen does, too, but we couldn’t do what we needed to do offensively. It’s on us.”

Story said of the offense’s inability to score more than one run Monday.

Story’s home run was the 130th of his career, tying him with Matt Holliday for 10th on the Rockies’ all-time home runs list.

  • Game 2 of the teams’ four-game series is this afternoon at 1:10 p.m. (AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM). Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 3.91 ERA) gets the start for Colorado against Houston’s Zack Greinke (1-0, 2.53 ERA).
  • The Rockies got some good news Monday as Carlos Estévez did not break his hand after being hit by a comebacker at the end of Sunday’s game. As of right now Estévez will avoid the injured list.
  • Colorado did make a move before the game though, placing backup catcher Elias Díaz on the restricted list for violating team rules and protocols. Manager Bud Black would not elaborate on what the specific violation was. Right-handed pitcher Ashton Goudeau was recalled to replace Díaz on the roster.

Broncos

Head coach Vic Fangio described his team’s first padded practice, which lasted just 90 minutes, as “just OK.”

Tight end Austin Fort, coming back from knee surgery, missed his third day of practice and appears to be headed towards injured reserve. The Broncos are scheduled to practice again today.

  • TheDNVR’s Ryan Koenigsberg wrote about why Monday’s practice was important for quarterback Drew Lock.
  • Lock meanwhile talked about being committed to being cautious when it comes to COVID-19.
  • TheAthletic looked at which non-playoff teams from last season have the best chance of making the postseason this year. They apparently don’t like the Broncos chances, as they ranked Denver No. 11 just ahead of the Chargers and behind the Falcons, Rams, Cardinals and Raiders among others. The Cowboys topped the list.

CU Buffs

CU men’s basketball player Evan Battey will represent Colorado on inaugural National Association of Basketball Coaches Player Development Coalition. Battey is one of 11 players named to the group which will meet four times a year and provide feedback about various issues facing basketball players.

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Avalanche Broncos CU Buffs High school sports Nuggets Rapids Rockies Sports betting

Rockies hold on late for 8-7 win

Rockies

A pitcher’s duel suddenly turned into an offensive explosion on Tuesday night as the Rockies held on to beat the Diamondbacks 8-7 at Coors Field.

Kyle Freeland started for Colorado and went seven innings allowing two runs and was matched by Arizona’s Zac Gallen who did the same. But in the bottom of the eighth inning the Rockies sent 11 men to the plate, scored six runs and took an 8-2 lead into the ninth. Game over right? Not quite.

Phillip Diehl and Jairo Díaz came on for the Rockies and combined to give up five runs on six hits and a walk, while recording just two outs. Enter Daniel Bard who finished things off for his first save since 2011 by striking out Stephen Vogt.

Charlie Blackmon continued his red-hot hitting with another three-hit performance to run his hitting streak to 15 games, two shy of his career best. He’s now hitting .500 on the season, promoting MLB.com to ponder if he could hit .400 this season.

  • Colorado looks to win its sixth straight series to start the season in the rubber match this afternoon (1:10 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) as Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.65 ERA) takes on Arizona’s Luke Weaver (0-3, 12.19 ERA).
  • There has been a noticeable drop in the velocity of Jon Gray’s four-seam fastball this season. Last year he averaged 96.0 mph with his four-seamer, so far this year it’s been 93.8 mph. Gray’s not sure what the problem is though because he said he feels fine.

Avalanche

The waiting is finally over for the Colorado Avalanche and their fans, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is today (3:30 p.m., NBCSN, Altitude, 92.5 FM) against the Arizona Coyotes.

And the best news is fans throughout the Denver metro area will be able to watch it, as well as the rest of the Avs first-round series thanks to a decision by Altitude to not blackout the nationally televised broadcast. The same will be true for the Nuggets first-round playoff series as well.

Avalanche-Coyotes playoff schedule

DateTime (MT)Home team
Wed., Aug. 123:30 p.m.Colorado
Fri., Aug. 14NoonColorado
Sat., Aug. 151 p.m.Arizona
Mon., Aug. 173:30 p.m.Arizona
*Wed., Aug. 19TBDColorado
*Fri., Aug. 21TBDArizona
*Sun., Aug. 23TBDColorado
*If necessary. All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton

Colleges

On Tuesday both the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences announced that they were postponing the football season until the spring. While the Big Ten canceled its fall sports seasons for the time being, the Pac-12 took it a step further by postponing all sports through the end 2020, affecting winter sports as well.

For CU, the decision obviously postpones the football season, but also women’s golf, women’s volleyball, cross country and the fall seasons of golf and women’s tennis. The men’s and women’s basketball seasons, which usually start in early November will be pushed back to January at the earliest.

“The decision to postpone the fall sports seasons and to delay the start of the winter ones was not made in haste – but in light of current virus trends and the long term health impacts of COVID-19 remaining unknown, this was determined to be the best course of action for the health and safety of our student-athletes.”

CU athletic director Rick George said in a press release.

As it stands right now, 53 of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams have canceled the fall season.

Nuggets

The Nuggets play their second-to-last seeding game tonight (7 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) against the Clippers.

Denver currently is the No. 3 seed in the West and could overtake the Clippers for No. 2 if Denver wins its final two games and L.A. loses its final two. The Nuggets also could fall to the fourth seed if they drop both games and Houston wins its final two.

  • TheAthletic.com’s Kendra Andrews wrote about what Monday’s loss to the Lakers says about the Nuggets bench going forward. Denver’s bench outscored the Lakers’ 57-28 in the game.
  • For you sports bettors out there, make sure to take advantage of FanDuel’s incredible offer for tonight Nuggets-Clippers game. As of this writing the Nuggets are +87 at -110 odds. What does that mean? If you bet $50, the max allowed for this offer, and the Nuggets don’t lose by 87 points or more you’ll win $45.45. So yeah, it’s free money.

Broncos

Running back Phillip Lindsay spoke to the media on Tuesday and among other things he talked about how he’s “going to have a hell of a season.”

I’ve written before that I think Lindsay got shortchanged by the Broncos this offseason. Free-agent Melvin Gordon signed a two-year $16 million deal, while Lindsay will be making $750,000 this season.

I’m not convinced Lindsay isn’t the better back, but no matter what he deserved to get a raise for what he did during his first two years in the league with the Broncos. Here’s hoping he has an even better 2020 season and finally cashes in with a big contract.

High school

The Denver Post’s Andy Yamashita wrote about the decision Colorado volleyball players might have to make going forward, play high school or club?

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Avalanche Broncos CSU Rams CU Buffs Nuggets Rockies

Rockies sweep A’s, home opener up next

Rockies

The Rockies improved to 4-1 on the season after beating the A’s 5-1 on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland to sweep the two-game series. No. 1 starter Germán Márquez gave up a home run in the first inning, but cruised the rest of the way. He finished with eight strikeouts, three hits and just one walk during six innings of work.

The offensive still wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but they got the job done for the Rockies when it mattered most. Including adding a run in the eighth and two more in the ninth to make it a much more comfortable win.

My thoughts: First off, I love this shortened MLB season. In a normal year Márquez wouldn’t have started yesterday because teams want to get their fifth starter work. How much better is it that teams are simply trying to win each game, instead of treating the whole season like a marathon.
As for the Rockies as a whole, it’s been a great start and we’re already through a 12th of the season and Colorado is alone in first place in the NL West. Really, what more could you ask for from them.

Avalanche

Colorado played its first game in more than four months, albeit of the exhibition variety, as the Avs beat Minnesota 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon in Edmonton.

Joonas Donskoi, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog all scored for the Avs in the win. Colorado managed to kill seven-of-eight penalties during the win.

Colorado has a bye in the best-of-five play-in round that starts Saturday. Instead, the Avs open play Sunday against the St. Louis Blues in what will determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference.

Nuggets

While the Nuggets don’t play until Saturday, the NBA season tips off tonight with Utah taking on New Orleans and the Lakers and Clippers squaring off with one another.

TheAthletic.com wrote about “Numbers to know about all 22 teams in the bubble.” The numbers to know about the Nuggets? 66.1% and 10.3%. Those were Bol Bol’s true shooting and block percentages during his eight games of G League action this year for the Windy City Bulls. It’s safe to say Bol’s play has been one of the biggest storylines of the NBA’s return so far.

My thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be talking about Bol much until at least next season at this point. Coach Michael Malone struggled to play Michael Porter Jr. during big chunks of the season and that was when the games were much less important and when he’d seen Porter play more in practice and training camp.

I just have a hard time believing Malone is going to give Bol many minutes, if any, unless the Nuggets suffer a few injuries or are really, really struggling.

Broncos

Yesterday I wrote about PFF.com’s quarterback rankings. Well, today they’ve got their team-by-team backfield rankings up. I assumed Denver would be near the middle of the pack, and PFF.com actually had them a little higher at No. 12.

Not surprisingly, they’re high on Phillip Lindsay’s play, but are more questioning about the addition of Melvin Gordon. As they point out, Gordon was great in 2018, but during the rest of his NFL career he’s simply been average.

My thoughts: I was never a fan of the offseason signing of Gordon. I think the Broncos overpaid for him and risk alienating Lindsay in the process.

I would have much rather seen them give Lindsay a raise and either sign a cheaper free-agent back or pick one high in the NFL Draft.

CSU Rams

Colorado State’s football team temporarily suspended activities after as many as 17 people within the CSU athletics department tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are taking this step to voluntarily pause football activities to minimize the opportunity for this virus to spread any further. We will always put the health and safety of our student-athletes and community first, and while we are disappointed to see this spread occur within our program, we remain encouraged for the continued collaboration we have experienced with our University’s Pandemic Preparedness Team, local, county, and state health officials.”

CSU athletic director Joe Parker via a news release.

CU Buffs

Buffzone.com’s Brian Howell wrote about how head coach Karl Dorrell is earning the respect of his team.