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Posted On Saturday, 04.11.2015 / 4:32 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Chicago Blackhawks want to end the regular season on a positive note heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, regardless of their opponent in the Western Conference First Round.

The Blackhawks (48-27-6), who play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday, would clinch the No. 3 seed in the Central Division with at least a point or if the Minnesota Wild lose to the St. Louis Blues.

Goalie Scott Darling will start against the Avalanche (38-31-12), who have won three of their past four games but have been eliminated from the postseason. They need a win to become the fifth team in the Central Division with at least 90 points.

The Blackhawks have lost three consecutive games, all by 2-1 scores. They've gone 0-for-11 on power plays in the past five games and allowed one power-play goal in three of the past four games.

Posted On Thursday, 04.09.2015 / 3:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Winnipeg Jets are in position to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; TSN3, ALT), but you'd be hard pressed to know that by their demeanor.

"The game's got to get played and how we focus won't change," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "It's not about winning, it's about playing the game. We've been good in our last long stretch of games. We've played pretty hard, pretty well. That's the key to our focus, it's the process of winning a game, what it takes. We've talked about it all year and they know what those things are. Making your mind focused isn't on winning but on playing."

The Jets (42-26-12) can earn the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with a win in any fashion against the Avalanche (37-31-12), who have been eliminated from playoff consideration.

The Jets would clinch with a point against Colorado if the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Calgary Flames. The Jets can also lose and get in if the Kings lose in regulation.

Posted On Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 3:35 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Predators at Avalanche

DENVER -- Finishing first in the Central Division and the Western Conference would be a nice advantage for the Nashville Predators heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but coach Peter Laviolette is more concerned with correcting some of the mistakes they have been making lately.

The Predators (47-22-10) trail the St. Louis Blues by one point in the division and they're three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the conference lead with three games remaining. They play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SPSO, ALT).

Nashville has lost three straight games (0-1-2) and is coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena.

"We're really just concerned about tonight," Laviolette said. "We've kept it kind of simple here. We want to play better, and there's things that certainly we can do better and eliminate mistakes, eliminate some turnovers, be a little better defensively, have a little better coverage, be a little better on the attack on offense.

Posted On Monday, 03.30.2015 / 3:18 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Avalanche

DENVER -- Center Ryan O'Reilly is playing his best hockey of the season, but he realizes it could be too late to help the Colorado Avalanche reach their goal of landing a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

O'Reilly has a seven-game scoring streak for the Avalanche, who play the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT) to conclude a two-game homestand.

The Avalanche (35-28-12) can close to within six points of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they can defeat the Oilers (22-40-13). They have seven games remaining, one more than the Jets.

Posted On Saturday, 03.28.2015 / 3:16 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche know the odds are long, but they plan to play as if they still have a chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, an approach they'll take against the Buffalo Sabres at Pepsi Center on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, ALT2).

The Avalanche (34-28-12) have eight games remaining and are 10 points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

The Sabres (20-46-8) have the worst record in the NHL and have no chance at a playoff position. They've gone 1-8-3 in the past 12 games and will be without leading scorer Tyler Ennis, who sustained a left shoulder injury Thursday in a 4-3 overtime home loss against the Arizona Coyotes.

Posted On Saturday, 03.14.2015 / 3:31 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche forwards Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay enjoyed their time with the Calgary Flames, but said they aren't interested in nostalgia. They're more concerned with defeating the Flames at Pepsi Center on Saturday to remain in the hunt for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche (31-26-11) are six points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with 14 games remaining.

The Flames (38-25-5), who also have 14 games left, are in second place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks and tied with the Minnesota Wild, who have the first wild card because they have fewer wins.

"We know we have to get to a certain amount of points to give ourselves a chance," said Iginla, who spent his first 15-plus NHL seasons with the Flames. "It's more about the Avalanche and trying to win an important game."

Posted On Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 2:50 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Avalanche

DENVER -- Goalie Semyon Varlamov will start for the Colorado Avalanche when they play the New Jersey Devils at Pepsi Center on Thursday.

Varlamov, who was sat out Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings because of a groin injury, told coach Patrick Roy he felt well enough to play Thursday after taking part in an optional morning skate.

"He said he was 100 percent and he will play," Roy said. "I have no doubt it's going to go well. If he would be 90 percent he would not play."

The Avalanche (30-26-11) and Devils (28-29-10) have plenty of ground to make up for any chance of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.10.2015 / 3:22 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Avalanche

DENVER -- Rookie goalie Calvin Pickard will start for the Colorado Avalanche against the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

Pickard, 22, was recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League on Monday because Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day with a groin injury he sustained Sunday in the third period of the Avalanche's 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild.

Pickard played in 15 games for the Avalanche earlier this season, and went 6-6-3 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .936 save percentage while Varlamov was out with a groin injury. He made 34 saves Sunday in a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Wolves for his record 52nd career win with Lake Erie.

Posted On Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 4:12 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche right wing Nathan MacKinnon and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby are good friends who train together in the Halifax area during the summer. They'll play against each other at Pepsi Center for the first time Wednesday.

Neither scored Dec. 18 in Pittsburgh when the Penguins (36-17-9) outshot the Avalanche (27-25-11) 48-29 and won 1-0 in overtime. MacKinnon had six shots on goal; Crosby three.

"I know how good he is and what he can do out there," said Crosby, who hasn't played in Denver since Jan. 10, 2009 because of injuries or scheduling. "I'm not sure if we'll be matched up against one another or not, but there's always a little bit of competition there, I think."

Posted On Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 10:46 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Trade Deadline blog

Avalanche GM Sakic says he intends to keep O'Reilly

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said Saturday he isn't interested in moving any core players, including center Ryan O'Reilly, and doesn't plan to make a short-term fix before the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

"We're in the thick of things right now," Sakic said of the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "I've had conversations with different teams. We've had teams inquire about some of our guys. We're not going to go out and try to acquire somebody for a run. I don't think we're in a position to give up draft picks or prospects just to try and make a run this year."

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It's obviously not fun to not know, but on the other hand, I'm not in a rush. I'm going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing. I'm not going to play on 90 percent.

— Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom in an interview with Washington Post about whether he will be able to play in 2015-16 opener
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