Stars-Avalanche Preview

Stars-Avalanche Preview

While the injuries keep piling up for the Colorado Avalanche, the goals have suddenly become plentiful, too.

The Avalanche will try to win their third straight and remain unbeaten at home Monday night when they take on the Dallas Stars, who will be without their leading scorer.

After totaling one goal in three straight losses during a four-game road trip, Colorado (4-4-0) responded with a 6-3 win at Calgary on Thursday and a 3-1 home win over Edmonton two days later.

The Avalanche, though, sustained another setback Saturday when defenseman Ryan Wilson went down in the second period with a leg injury. He won't play Monday and is out indefinitely.

Colorado has already had to move forward without Steve Downie (ACL), Gabriel Landeskog (head, leg) and David Jones (knee). Downie and Landeskog are out for an extended period, while Jones is day-to-day.

P.A. Parenteau and Paul Stastny have helped pick up the slack, combining for six goals in the last two games.

"We had a rough run there," Parenteau said. "We're going to have to live with it. Some of our guys are going to have to chip in a little more."

Stastny has 11 goals and 20 points in his last 18 games against Dallas, and he'll look to help the Avalanche keep it rolling at home, where they've outscored opponents 10-2 while winning their first three games.

"In order to have a lot of success in this league, you have to be a dominant home team," coach Joe Sacco said. "We're off to a good start with a long way to go here. It is the way we want to play at home."

Despite its improved production, Colorado has yet to get anything going on the power play. After going 0 for 6 against the Oilers, the Avalanche rank last in the NHL at 2 for 27 (7.4 percent).

Dallas (3-5-1) has killed 24 of 26 penalties over its last five games, but is still 1-4-0 in that stretch following a 2-0 loss at Phoenix on Saturday. The Stars have struggled to score in all of their road games, totaling four goals while going 1-4-0 in opponents' rinks.

They have injury concerns as well, especially with Ray Whitney expected to miss at least four weeks because of a broken foot. Whitney had six points to lead the Stars before going on the injured list Saturday.

Michael Ryder has a team-high four goals, and has six along with five assists in 10 career games against the Avalanche.

With 16 goals in nine games, the Stars rank near the bottom of the league in scoring. They've also struggled on the power play, converting only 2 of 24 chances in their last eight contests.

Dallas, however, had only 41 seconds with the man advantage Saturday, while Phoenix spent more than 11 minutes on the power play. The Stars' 51 minor penalties are the second-most in the league.

"If you're going to be killing penalties, you're not going to get many chances," Stars defenseman Trevor Daley said. "It's been kind of a theme around here."

It doesn't figure to get any easier against the Avalanche, who are 15 for 15 on the penalty kill at home. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov has been outstanding in Denver, allowing two goals on 88 shots in three wins for a 0.67 goals-against average.

Counterpart Kari Lehtonen has also been sharp in Colorado throughout his career, going 3-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA in four starts there.

Quick Links

Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

USA Today Sports Images

Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

USA Today Sports Images

Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.