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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

Avs-Stars Game 4 highlights

Nuggets stun Clippers, advance to West finals

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Broncos surrender late lead in 16-14 loss to Titans

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Rockies fall as bullpen, offense again stumble

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Nuggets rally, force Game 7 vs. Clippers

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Top Colorado sportsbook offers for NFL opening weekend

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Avalanche

Avs face pivotal Game 3 tonight vs. Stars

As The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers wrote, if history is a guide, then the Avalanche’s current 2-0 series deficit to the Stars could prove fatal. Colorado has trailed 2-0 in a series five times previously, and only once have they managed to comeback and win.

That one time was in the 1999 Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings. Colorado won the ensuing four games to eliminate Detroit. The next four times the Avs fell behind 2-0 they would lose the series.

As Chambers also wrote though, what happened to previous Colorado teams has no bearing on this year’s team. And not only that, with the Stanley Cup playoffs taking place in a bubble this year, and home-ice advantage simply being a matter of who gets the final line change, things are definitely different right now.

Francouz needs to step up

With regular starting goalie Philipp Grubauer out indefinitely, if the Avs are going to rally they’ll need Pavel Francouz to improve his play in net.

“This is something I’ve always dreamed about, so it’s a huge chance for me. It depends on me how I take this responsibility and help the team to win four more games.”

Francouz said of the opportunity to lead the Avs in net.

While losing Grubauer definitely was a big blow for Colorado, the reality is Francouz started 31 games during the regular season and led the team with 21 wins. His save percentage of .923 was fifth overall in the NHL and his goals-against average of 2.41 was seventh best, making him the first Avs goalie to finish in the Top 10 of both since David Aebischer in 2003-2004.

Avs head coach Jared Bednar was straight to the point when addressing Francouz’s play in net, saying:

“Frankie is going to have to get the job done.”

If Colorado is going to come back in its Western Conference semifinals series against Dallas it start tonight with Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN).

One-timers

  • In news around the NHL on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to a six-player trade. The Penguins acquired Kasperi Kapanen, Pontus Aberg and Jesper Lindgren, while the Maple Leafs received Evan Rodrigues, Filip Hallander, David Warsofsky and the Penguins first-round pick (No. 15) in this year’s draft.

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 Broncos CSU Rams CU Buffs Nuggets Rockies

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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Avalanche Broncos CSU Rams Nuggets Rockies

Porter’s 37 points lead Nuggets to OT win

Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. turned in the biggest performance of his young career as the Nuggets topped Oklahoma City 121-113 in overtime Monday afternoon in Orlando.

Porter finished the game with career highs in both points (37) and minutes (43) to go along with 10 rebounds. One of the most impressive aspects of Porter’s scoring was that he did it on just 16 shots (12-for-16), thanks to going 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

Not to be overlooked was Nikola Jokic’s first triple-double in the bubble. Jokic finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Denver was once again short-handed as regular starters Jamal Murray (hamstring), Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip) all did not play.

“This is a big opportunity for me. We can’t wait for Will and Gary and Jamal to come back. For me to be in this starting position, I worked really hard so this is a good opportunity for me to show what I can do. Obviously, I’m going to be getting a lot of minutes right now, so it’s a great opportunity for me and I need to take advantage of it every night and not have off nights in terms of effort.”

Porter told TheAthletic.com after the Nuggets’ win

Rockies

Nolan Arenado broke out of an early-season slump with his first homer of the season and helped the Rockies rally past the Giants 7-6 on Monday night at Coors Field.

Going into the game Arenado was hitting .226, but a two-run homer off San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto in the sixth inning sparked Colorado’s rally. The Giants led 4-1 at the start of the inning, but were trailing 6-4 by inning’s end.

The ninth inning wasn’t without drama as Jairo Díaz picked up the save, but not after allowing two runs and stranding the tying runner at third base.

In his pregame press conference manager Bud Black thought Arenado was close to breaking out of his mini-slump.

“It’s just a matter of time. I told Nolan just moments ago that there are a lot of pitchers that are going to have to pay for this. And it could happen as early as tonight.”

Black before Monday night’s Rockies’ game vs. the Giants
  • At 7-2 the Rockies are tied for their best start in franchise history. Four times previously they’ve won seven of their first nine games, most recently in 2015.
  • The Rockies and Giants face off against tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 AM) with Germán Márquez looking to pick up his second win of the season for Colorado.
    The division rivals play again Wednesday (6:40 p.m.) and Thursday (1:10 p.m.) before the Rockies head to Seattle to take on the Mariners starting Friday.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Jim Bowden wrote about what to believe and what not to believe after roughly 10 games into the MLB season. Rockies’ fans will be disappointed to know Colorado made the list of what not to believe.
    It wouldn’t be too bad, if he just said the Dodgers will pass them in the NL West at some point (which he said). But he goes on to predict both the Padres and Diamondbacks might as well.
    My thoughts: I never like when writers and broadcasters ignore the results on the field. The Dodgers are obviously loaded and win the West almost every year, so I’m fine with that part of the article. But the Rockies literally just won a series against San Diego where they were one out away from sweeping the Padres. Do I think the Rockies are going to go 46-14, their current pace, this season? Of course not. But based on what they’ve done so far there’s no reason to think they can’t seriously contend.
  • In more positive national Rockies news, ESPN.com’s Dan Mullen predicts the Rockies will host a first-round playoff series and Trevor Story will win the 2020 NL MVP award.

Broncos

The Broncos’ plans heading into Training Camp were dealt a major blow as right tackle Ja’Wuan James announced he was opting out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns.

The only good news for Denver is that Elijah Wilkinson was removed from the physically unable to perform list yesterday. If the season started today (which it does not) Wilkinson most likely would be the Broncos starting right tackle.

Among the reasons for deciding to opt out, James cited the recent birth of his son (born May 22) and a family member who was hospitalized because of COVID-19.

“To the Denver community: These first two years weren’t what I expected them to be when arriving here. I know you don’t know me well (and) a false narrative was painted of me last year due to comments made about my injury, but I am invested in this city and my team.”

Part of James’ statement about opting out this season.

James’ contract simply will push back one year, meaning he will count $13 million, $14, and $16 million against the salary cap from 2021-23.

Avalanche

A day after their dramatic win over St. Louis the Avs had an off-day in Edmonton. Unfortunately a day off while in the NHL bubble means there’s not a lot to do.

Colorado will practice on Tuesday before its next round-robin game Wednesday vs. Dallas (4:30 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM). Backup goalie Pavel Francouz is expected to get the start over Philipp Grubauer who started on Sunday.

  • While Altitude still is not available for Comcast and Dish Network subscribers, that didn’t keep the Avs’ game against St. Louis off the air on Comcast on Sunday. The Denver Post wrote about how Comcast violated blackout rules and aired the game on its NHL Center Ice platform, while the game also was shown on the NBC Sports app, which should have been blacked out as well.
    My thoughts: I’m fortunate enough to have DirecTV, so have been able to see Avs and Nuggets games most of this season, but what a joke that these companies haven’t been able to get things figured out at this point. Both the Avs and Nuggets have young, exciting teams and to think that most people in Colorado can’t watch them during these restarts is just ridiculous.

CSU Rams

The Denver Post reported that Colorado State conducted 150 COVID-19 test on Monday in an attempt to determine how widespread the outbreak within the organization is. It also will help determine when the football team can return to training, after being shutdown last Wednesday due to positive test results.