Capitals

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.

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Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

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NBC Sports Washington

Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s semifinal matchup:

Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

2018-19 stats

Joonas Donskoi (27 years old): 80 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 14 goals, 23 assists, 37 points, 13:25 TOI

Playoffs: 12 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 12:26 TOI

Carl Gunnarsson (32 years old): 25 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, 15:15 TOI

Playoffs: 19 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 14:57 TOI, won Stanley Cup

Hockey-Graph contract projections 

Joonas Donskoi: 3 years, $2,847,521 cap hit

Carl Gunnarsson: 1 year, $731,159 cap hit

The case for Joonas Donskoi

Maybe Andre Burakovsky’s qualifying offer of $3.25 million means he’s back with the Capitals for another year. But it doesn’t preclude a trade and in Donskoi you’d have a similar option at a cheaper price, which matters if you only have $9.2 million in cap space left for now.

Donskoi made the offense better in San Jose in whatever role he was asked to play. He can go up and down the lineup and had a consistency to his game that Burakovsky at times lacks. Donskoi’s stats may not always reflect that, but making his teammates around him better is a valuable asset. Either way, depth scoring is important and a priority for the Capitals. 

Donskoi has every bit the Stanley Cup playoff experience as Burakovsky does if that matters to you. Donskoi has nine goals and 12 assists in 50 playoff games and Burakovsky has nine goals and nine assists in 56 playoff games. Not much to chose between the team except Donskoi would be cheaper if Washington decided to trade Burakovsky. 

The case for Carl Gunnarsson

The Caps will need a No. 6/7 defenseman after Brooks Orpik retired on Tuesday. Yes, they gave a qualifying offer to RFA defenseman Christian Djoos and they have Jonas Siegenthaler under contract, too. Both are natural left side defensemen. Going with the kids is an option. But both of them? That becomes problematic when someone gets hurt in your top two pairings and players have to bump up. 

Gunnarsson was the hero of the “Boston Pee Party” when he scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after declaring to head coach Craig Berube at the urinal he just needed one more opportunity. Gunnarsson had just seven points in the regular season so no one should expect a ton of offense, but the point is he delivered when it mattered most.

When he is not playing the overtime hero, he is a third-pairing, stay at home defenseman who can play on the penalty kill which is pretty much exactly what the Caps need in a depth defenseman.

Take a look at Gunnarsson’s contract projection. You can’t beat that price. Sure, those projections came out before he won the Stanley Cup, but even if his price goes up, it will not be significant. You’re tinkering at the margins of the roster here and championship experience matters. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here:

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Megan Rapinoe likely won't be coming to DC if USWNT wins World Cup

Megan Rapinoe likely won't be coming to DC if USWNT wins World Cup

Megan Rapinoe is one of the United States Women's National Team's biggest stars, and her two goals against Spain in the Round of 16 propelled the United States into the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Rapinoe, who sports the captain armband for the stars and stripes, is also one of the most outspoken players on the team. When asked by a reporter from the magazine Eight By Eight in a story published earlier this month if the team would visit the White House if the United States came home from France victorious, her response was simple and direct.

"Psssh, I'm not going to the f*****g White House," she said. "No. I'm not going to the White House. We're not gonna be invited. I doubt it."

Rapinoe's comments caught the attention of President Donald Trump after the magazine posted a short clip of the interview to Twitter on Tuesday. Trump responded with his own tweets:

Rapinoe has a history of speaking out about injustices she sees in this country. A few years ago, she followed former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's lead by kneeling for the National Anthem before matches. 

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe told American Soccer Now's John D. Halloran on why she took a knee. “It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”

Rapinoe has stood for the National Anthem during the World Cup - US Soccer now requires it - but found a new way to protest. While her teammates have had their right hand over their hearts and sung the Star Spangled Banner, Rapinoe has stood still with her lips sealed and hands by her sides.

This also caught the attention of Trump, who called Rapinoe's actions "inappropriate." 

The United States Women's National Team is back in action on Friday, as they face the host nation France. 

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