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Paul Stastny reaches 600 vs. his former team as Avalanche struggle to find footing in loss to Blues

Paul Stastny reaches 600 vs. his former team as Avalanche struggle to find footing in loss to Blues

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24536347

Nathan MacKinnon pinpointed the problem without much insight. The Avalanche could not find its footing long enough to fall into rhythm. “The lines haven’t been creating a ton of chances,” Colorado’s top-line center said this week. “There’s not really any flow 5-on-5.”

By the time St. Louis’ Paul Stastny waltzed in for a milestone goal in the second period of the Blues’ 4-3 victory Thursday at the Pepsi Center, the Avs were tripping over their feet. It took them nine marathon minutes of the second period to finally find a shot on goal, let alone anything dangerous.

Mikko Rantanen‘s would-be open-net goal with less than 3 minutes remaining nearly brought the Avs back into a tie, but officials ruled Sven Andrighetto was offside before he keyed a rush from the left side. The Blues were saved by video review.

So the Avs (4-4-0), in falling back to even for the second time this season, lost a third consecutive game, missing a prime opportunity to take advantage of a drained Blues team (6-2) playing on the back end of back-to-back nights. Colorado’s issues fell into a pattern.

On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators turned a one-goal deficit to the Avs into a blowout by scoring three goals in the second period. On Thursday, the Blues banged them for the same.

Stastny scored 160 goals and 458 points over eight seasons with the Avalanche before bolting for the Blues in 2014. On Thursday, he hit an exceptional bar. His goal in the second period gave him 600 career points, joining his uncle Anton, and hall-of-famer father Peter, both who played for the Quebec Nordiques, to reach the milestone mark.

“It’s funny how the world works like that,” Paul Stastny said between periods. “It’s coming full circle.”

It was one of Stastny’s easier goals. After Colorado winger Rantanen lost the puck to Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, it turned into a slow and steady St. Louis rush. Pietrangelo pushed the puck to Stastny, who glided down the right side to flip and easy shot past Avs goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s stick side.

Just 39 seconds into the second period, St. Louis tied the game. Midway through the period, within 48 seconds, the Blues put up two more tallies.

Jaden Schwartz, whose hat trick Wednesday gave the Blues a 5-2 blowout win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, put back a rebound past Bernier after Pietrangelo’s slapper from the point hit Bernier in the chest. Then Vince Dunn, a third-line Blues defender, slashed through the circles on a diagonal, took a pass from Stastny, then slinked a shot to the far side of the net.

The Blues scored three goals in a span that saw the Avs put up just one shot on goal. Colorado could not find any way to threaten the net.

“Sometimes that’s hounding pucks, protecting pucks, moving to the right spot early enough on the ice,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said this week. “Then there’s an element we need: more of a shot mentality.”

Gabriel Landeskog sneaked in front of St. Louis’ net midway through the second and found sliding to his stick, but he could not corral a tip-in try.

The Avs’ did find a lone early flurry on a power play in the first. After Pietrangelo got nipped for tripping Rantanen, the Avs blitzed the Blues on the game’s first power play. They ripped off five shots at goaltender Carter Hutton, pegging his pads from between the circles.

Rantanen camped out beside the net and twice teed up J.T. Compher for slap shots. Twice they were turned away. But the third fell to the feet of Alexander Kerfoot, centering a line for the first time this season, for an easy rebound goal to Hutton’s glove side.

Black Comeau scored on an open net after Hutton got pinned in the corner under his own defender, Robert Bortuzzo, to cut the Avs’ deficit to 3-2. But Bortuzzo scored an insurance goal five minutes later, making Kerfoot’s tally with less than five minutes remaining irrelevant.
Dodgers beat Cubs to reach World Series

Dodgers beat Cubs to reach World Series

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24536348

CHICAGO — Kike Hernandez homered three times and drove in seven runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers romped past the Chicago Cubs 11-1 on Thursday night behind Clayton Kershaw to reach the World Series for the first time in almost three decades.

Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Cody Bellinger had three hits as Los Angeles ended Chicago’s title defense with a dominant performance in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second against Jose Quintana and a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

It’s the first pennant for one of baseball’s most storied franchises since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Los Angeles to its last championship in 1988. The Dodgers will host the Yankees or Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
Denver Nuggets notes: Nikola Jokic held scoreless in second half of loss to Jazz

Denver Nuggets notes: Nikola Jokic held scoreless in second half of loss to Jazz

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24536154

One troubling development during the Nuggets’ collapse in a 106-96 season-opening loss at the Utah Jazz was the disappearance of standout center Nikola Jokic, who flirted with a triple-double but did not score in the second half.

The Jazz often went small, with the 6-foot-7 Joe Johnson guarding the 6-10 Jokic. Malone was disappointed by three consecutive possessions in which Jockic posted up but did not score, missing a shot on the left block and committing two turnovers.

But that won’t stop the Nuggets from feeding their big man down the stretch, particularly when he has the size advantage.

“I have no doubt that Nikola scoring zero points in the second half will not happen many more times in this season — or his NBA career,” Malone said.


Wednesday’s opener offered the first chance for Malone to develop a rotation in a typical game setting. It yielded mixed results.

The Nuggets primarily played Mason Plumlee, Will Barton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Juancho Hernangomez off the bench, though Faried and Hernangomez did not play in the second half.

Malone attributed Faried’s absence to Utah’s small lineups. But the coach added Hernangomez — who did not attempt a shot in nearly six minutes — has “got to get going.”

“Right now, he doesn’t have that same energy and zap that he had last year,” Malone said.

Barton led the reserves with 32 minutes, scoring 21 of his 23 points in the first half and adding six rebounds and two assists while playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward. But he was absent for most of the third quarter, and acknowledged after the game that it was challenging to rediscover his rhythm after the extended break.

That was partially due to bad luck, Malone said. He sent Barton to the scorer’s table midway through the third quarter, but play did not stop until the 3:54 mark.


Malone on the Nuggets’ defensive effort against the pick and roll: “We just ran into screens, died and didn’t fight through it.”
Marshawn Lynch ejected for pushing official in Raiders game

Marshawn Lynch ejected for pushing official in Raiders game

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535930

OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was ejected Thursday night after shoving an official when he ran onto the field during a scuffle against the Kansas City Chiefs.

It all started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City’s Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters.

Lynch, who is close friends with his fellow Oakland native Peters, then sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Line judge Julian Mapp tried to break up the fight but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey.

Peters was called for a personal foul for the late hit. Lynch got a personal foul and was ejected for making contact with the official.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.
Should pitching limits be implemented in high school softball? Divided stakeholders weigh in

Should pitching limits be implemented in high school softball? Divided stakeholders weigh in

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535626

Valor Christian rolls into the Class 4A state softball tournament this weekend as the heavy favorite, thanks largely to its undefeated ace, senior Ali Kilponen, the state’s top collegiate prospect and who has pitched every inning for the Eagles this fall.

Kilponen’s dominance aside, the fact that she gets the ball every game — not uncommon in high school softball — raises a number of questions.

Is it safe for one player to pitch every game? Should there be a limit on pitching — as there is in prep baseball  — in prep softball? And is a culture change necessary in a sport where the idea persists that pitchers, unlike their baseball counterparts, can throw as much as they want without injury?

Answers depend on whom you ask.

For her part, Kilponen is happy carrying the entirety of the Eagles’ pitching load, especially if that results in a fourth consecutive state championship.

“I know I’ve prepared myself to throw as much as I have this season, and I always want the ball,” Kilponen said. “I’m definitely not the only pitcher in the state who feels that, and who feels like I can throw all the games when it matters most.”

Valor Christian coach Dave Atencio remains firm in his belief that, with proper technique and guidance, softball pitching overuse is a nonissue

“It’s a different arm motion, and the wear and tear on the rotator cuff is not there,” said Atencio, who was a fast-pitch softball pitcher for more than two decades.

Columbine freshman pitcher Korbe Otis (#10) delivers a pith during the 7th inning against Cherokee Trail on September 12, 2017 during their softball game at Dave Sanders Field.
(Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)
Columbine freshman pitcher Korbe Otis (#10) delivers a pith during the 7th inning against Cherokee Trail on September 12, 2017, during a game at Dave Sanders Field. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

Case for limitations

The majority of Atencio’s peers agree with him — all but one of a dozen local softball coaches contacted for this story said they would oppose pitching limits — but some orthopedists say they’re starting to see firsthand proof that concern about unregulated pitching is warranted.

“I’m telling you, I’m hearing it from the grassroots — people are saying we need guidelines, we need pitch counts, we need more effective long-toss programs,” said Dr. Steve Jordan, an orthopedic surgeon for the Andrews Institute in Florida, who estimates he has seen about a threefold increase in softball pitching injuries at his practice over the past decade.

The majority of that concern, however, isn’t necessarily directed at high school-sanctioned softball, where teams in Colorado each have a regular season of only 19 games.

“Travel ball and those elite summer teams is where we’re really having trouble, because what we know from epidemiological work at the high schools is that girls who had more seasonal exposure — in other words, more pitches per season — were at a higher risk,” Jordan said. “What we found is that some of these girls are pitching as many as 1,000 or more pitches in a weekend summer tournament — which is equal to the risk factors we saw in an entire season of high school ball.”

Also at issue, said Dr. Kristen Thomas, an orthopedic surgeon in Oregon, is the validity of the argument that underhand pitching cannot be harmful.

“There’s this conception that softball pitchers don’t get injured, but biomechanics studies have shown that throwing a pitch underhand is equally as stressful as throwing an overhand pitch to the shoulder, and in fact, it has a higher rate of stress to the biceps tendon than an overhand throw,” said Thomas, who specializes in shoulder injuries.

She conducted a 2010 research study that examined the effect of range of motion, shoulder strength, pitch count and pitch frequency on 50 pitchers at various NCAA programs.

“There’s a big disconnect between the players and the coaches, because anytime I talked to a coach and said, ‘Hey, can I come talk to your players about shoulder injuries?’, the coach would say to me, ‘You can come here, but I don’t have any pitchers who are injured. All my players are doing fine and they don’t have any shoulder pain or problems,'” Thomas said. “But when I actually talked to the players, the fact is there’s a large amount of players who play hurt, who played injured and who end up getting surgery in the offseason.”

But a gradual culture shift — highlighted by more pregame and postgame arm-care awareness at the lower levels of softball — might be resulting in a change in the thinking of young pitchers.

“It gets to a point where practice and games become detrimental,” said Columbine freshman pitcher Korbe Otis, a Louisville commit who leads the Rebels’ 5A state tournament push. “I think pitchers shouldn’t throw more than five days in a week, even in the offseason, because that will cause your arm to eventually give out.”

Legacy pitcher Hannah Farley delivers a pitch during the Lightning's game against Wheat Ridge on Friday at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Photo by Brad Cochi, BoCoPreps
Legacy pitcher Hannah Farley delivers a pitch during the Lightning’s game against Wheat Ridge earlier this season at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Photo by Brad Cochi,

Rulebook unchanged

So, if top doctors maintain that too much pitching can be dangerous, why isn’t anything done about it?

The bottom line is that the hard data here — injury statistics through High School RIO, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ digital collection tool — doesn’t support such a move.

“There really hasn’t been a ton of information out there to indicate that overuse injuries in softball are prevalent,” said NFHS director of sports Sandy Searcy. “So, as far as pitch count, when NFHS instituted a pitch count in baseball, everyone turned to softball and wondered if that would be good for that sport, too. But everything we’ve been presented with by (High School RIO) and our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has not indicated there is the need to create a pitch-count rule or mandatory rest days for softball.”

High School RIO’s original softball data in 2005-06 listed the sport with an injury rate of 1.1 for every 1,000 participants. That injury rate has increased to 1.34 in 2016-17.

But further data breakdowns show decreased throwing-related injuries. In 2005-06, 17.2 percent of reported injuries were to the shoulder or arm and 10.4 percent of reported injuries were to pitchers, while last year’s data says 8.8 percent of reported injuries were to the shoulder or arm and 8 percent of reported injuries were to pitchers.

That data is in line with the thought process of successful, longtime Colorado high school softball coaches such as Legacy’s Dawn Gaffin, who, like Atencio, opposes limitations on pitch counts. Gaffin argues the connection between coach and player — which Thomas found to be lacking in her study — is crucial in maintaining a pitcher’s health, as is having a minimum of three quality arms on staff during the club season.

And while the coach and the doctor differ on their stance on the need for limitations, Gaffin and Thomas agree that with no rules in place, the onus is on the coach to know when it’s time to make a switch from pitchers whose competitive pride, like a dazed quarterback after a big hit, can hinder any admission of pain.

“It’s a checks-and-balances-type of situation — you’ve got to constantly be checking in with your pitchers, and you need to know your kids,” said Gaffin, who has led Legacy to six state titles using a combination of ace and staff approaches. “You know what your kid looks like when they’re fatiguing and when there’s no more pop left in their pitch, or you can even tell by the look on their face and their mannerisms on the mound.”

At the Colorado High School Activities Association, assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann said the organization’s position on softball arm injuries is that the issue isn’t as pressing as the larger scope of the problem caused by the culture of year-round sports.

“I look at the softball piece as a microcosm of some of the issues that you have in many sports, which is repetitive injuries,” Borgmann said. “And I do know conversations have occurred with the NFHS about the concern with repetitive injuries, but like how I see it, it wasn’t necessarily about strictly baseball and softball, but also volleyball and swimming and other sports where it’s also a problem.”

Future of care

The traction toward an actual rule change on pitching limitations in prep softball is in its infancy.  But that doesn’t keep those who have made study of sports injuries their life’s work — such as Jordan, Thomas and Dr. Stephen Nicholas — from raising the caution flag.

“We’re abusing softball pitchers’ shoulders because we’re not allowing them to recover appropriately from the stress incurred during a game,” said Nicholas, the director of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York. “The main factor in those resulting injuries is chronic overuse, period. No matter what, the arm needs time to rest, and that has to be addressed.”

But until there is tangible data to support that view, prep pitchers will continue to be able to throw every game.

“Good grief, I hope coaches are using common sense enough that they’re not injuring their girls,” Gaffin said. “Or else CHSAA would have to step in and impose some kind of pitch count.”
Richard Jefferson aims to “pay it forward” with young Denver Nuggets after signing 1-year contra

Richard Jefferson aims to “pay it forward” with young Denver Nuggets after signing 1-year contra

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535627

Richard Jefferson didn’t get much playing time during his two-year stint with the Golden State Warriors from 2012-13.

But after each practice, then-assistant coach Michael Malone watched Jefferson play 1-on-1 with youngsters like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.

Malone, now the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, believes Jefferson had a “profound” impact on helping develop those players into NBA champions. Now the Nuggets are calling on Jefferson to provide a similar presence to their young core, as Jefferson officially joined the organization Thursday after signing a one-year contract.

“My job is to kind of get here and be the old grumpy man,” Jefferson said, “and make sure everyone’s working and make sure guys are putting in that extra time.”

Jefferson rattled off Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Lucious Harris as some of his key veteran influences throughout his 17-year career. Later on, he played with future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. He’s been to the NBA Finals four times, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win a title in 2016.

Jefferson became an unrestricted free agent earlier this week, after he was traded from Cleveland to the Atlanta Hawks and then subsequently waived. Jefferson won’t initially be part of the Nuggets’ rotation, Malone said. But the coach added he “would have no hesitancy” to put Jefferson in a game if needed because of his ability to space the floor, guard multiple positions and make intelligent decisions.

Last season, Jefferson averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers while shooting 44.6 from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range

“His No. 1 goal right now is to get acclimated, be a veteran and then to stay ready,” Malone said. “Because I have no doubt that, at some point, he’s gonna be called upon. And when he is called upon, I know he’ll go out there and help us.”

Jefferson does not mind the limited on-court action, joking “I’m so old, I don’t care about what my playing role is. I’m glad to have a job.” He believes in the Nuggets’ potential, and in Malone as a head coach. And Jefferson insists his longtime friendship with Nuggets president and governor Josh Kroenke was not a primary factor in his choice to come to Denver.

“(Kroenke) tries to kind of stay out of those things,” Jefferson said. “This was not a personal decision. This was a professional decision.”

Last night, Jefferson watched the Nuggets blow a 15-point lead in their season-opening loss at Utah, noting this young group still needs to learn how to close out games. Jefferson was on the Nuggets’ practice floor within hours of signing his contract. Malone expects Jefferson to quickly earn the respect of the Nuggets’ locker room.

Perhaps soon, Jefferson will be staying after practice with guys like Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray.

“My job as a professional is not only to perform, but also put my team in the best position,” Jefferson said. “That could be helping with what I see. That could be working out with the young guys.

“The only thing I’m doing is what older players did for me when I was a young player. All I’m doing is paying it forward.”
Everything you need to know for Colorado at Washington State football

Everything you need to know for Colorado at Washington State football

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535537

Colorado (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) at Washington State (6-1, 3-1)

When: 8:45 p.m. Saturday

Where: Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.)


Radio: KOA, 850 AM

Tickets: General admission tickets are limited and available as low as $52 at

Weather: The forecast calls for 44 degrees with a 100 percent chance of rain.

Coaches: Mike MacIntyre (24-43 at CU, fifth season). Mike Leach (35-35 at WSU, sixth season).

Betting info: Washington State is favored by 10 points. The over/under is set at 52 1/2 points.

Opponent spotlight: WSU saw its perfect season come to an end with a lopsided 37-3 road loss at California. The Cougars remain undefeated at home this fall.

Three story lines

1. Get after the quarterback. WSU is tied for the most sacks allowed nationally this season with 32 through seven games. So, if there was ever a time for CU to rediscover its pass rush, Saturday would be a great time to do it. The Buffaloes have managed only 10 sacks this fall, but also recorded 24 quarterback hurries. Now, it’s a matter of taking him down when given the opportunity.

2. Notable suspension. WSU will be without the services of star receiver Tavares Martin Jr., whose seven touchdown receptions are tied for third-most nationally, after it was announced Martin has been suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The Cougars have six more players with at least 20 receptions this season, but filling Martin’s shoes will be difficult.

3. Lindsay watch. CU’s enigmatic starting tailback is nearing more milestones in the gold and black. With just five more rushing yards on Saturday, Phillip Lindsay will eclipse 1,000 on the season for a second straight year. Should he tack on 131 more receiving yards over the final five games, he will also reach 1,000 career receiving yards.  Few Buffaloes in history have been more versatile than Lindsay.
Everything you need to know for Colorado State at New Mexico football

Everything you need to know for Colorado State at New Mexico football

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535538

Colorado State (5-2, 3-0 Mountain West) at New Mexico (3-3, 1-2)

When: 8:15 p.m. Friday

Where: Dreamstyle Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.)


Radio: KARS-FM 102.9, KDCO-AM 1340

Tickets: General admission tickets are available for as little as $18 at

Weather: The forecast calls for 41 degrees and clear at kickoff with winds out of the southwest.

Coaches: Mike Bobo (19-14 at CSU, third season). Bob Davie (30-39, sixth season).

Betting info: Colorado State is favored by 7 1/2 points. The over/under is set at 58 1/2 points.

Opponent spotlight: New Mexico was hammered last week in a loss at Fresno State, 38-0, one game after rolling Air Force, 56-38, at home. The Lobos are 2-1 in Albuquerque this year.

Three story lines

1. Keep on rolling. The Rams are off to their first 3-0 start to Mountain West play since 2002 — the last time CSU brought home a conference championship. Quarterback Nick Stevens has thrown for 2,255 yards, tailback Dalyn Dawkins has rushed for 684, and the Rams rank No. 9 nationally in red zone defense. Traveling to New Mexico on a short week of practice is no cake walk. CSU must maintain focus on its championship chase.

2. Total dominance. New Mexico Coach Bob Davie advocated this week for CSU’s admission to a Power 5 conference. Nice compliment. But Davie would be glad to rid the Rams for different reasons. CSU has owned the Lobos in this series, winning their previous seven matchups by an average of 17 points per game. Defending a run-option attack always presents a challenge, but it hasn’t been enough to keep the Rams off track.

3. Defensive downturn? CSU allowed 508 yards passing in its 44-42 homecoming victory against Nevada last week. It’s the biggest defensive blemish the Rams have displayed since falling at Alabama. Pass defense against a run-first team like New Mexico can be tricky. The Lobos will undoubtedly attempt lulling CSU defensive backs to sleep before striking deep over the top. The Rams’ secondary must be prepared at all times.
Everything you need to know for Air Force at Nevada football

Everything you need to know for Air Force at Nevada football

20/10/2017, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 24535539

Air Force (2-4, 1-2 Mountain West) at Nevada (1-6, 1-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Mackay Stadium (Reno, Nev.)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: KKFN-FM 104.3, KVOR-AM 740

Tickets: General admission tickets are available for as little as $19 at

Weather: The forecast calls for 45 degrees and clear at kickoff with a breeze out of the northwest.

Coaches: Troy Calhoun (79-57 at Air Force, 11th season). Jay Norvell (1-6 at Nevada, first season).

Betting info: Air Force is favored by 7 points. The over/under is set at 67 1/2 points.

Opponent spotlight: Nevada fell 44-42 at CSU last week. The Wolfpack’s only victory was at home against Hawaii (35-21).

Three story lines

1. Back on track. After falling in four straight games, Air Force finally found the win column with a dramatic 27-point comeback victory against UNLV. There are still glaring issues facing the Falcons, including a No. 66 national ranking in total defense, but quarterback Arion Worthman’s magic was enough to grind this one out. Is now the time Air Force finally catches fire?

2. Big-play threat. Without the services of former star receiver Jalen Robinette, Air Force has turned to another offensive dynamo in Ronald Cleveland. The 5-foot-9, 174-pound junior has averaged 28.7 yards on seven receptions. Cleveland also averages more than 10 yards per rush and set a career long last week against UNLV with a 36-yard scamper. Air Force must get Cleveland more involved offensively moving forward.

3. Growing pains. First-year Nevada coach Jay Norvell has played a total of 10 true freshmen through the first half of the season. It shows. While the Wolfpack have developed more of an offensive identity in a victory against Hawaii and a 2-point loss at CSU, the team continues to search for answers.