BRONCOS HEADED TO KANSAS CITY MINUS KEY PLAYERS
Broncos won’t have Marshall, Ward and two tight ends for big game against Chiefs.
The Broncos will face the Chiefs in windy Kansas City on Sunday night depleted and desperate for a victory.
Coach Gary Kubiak has ruled out inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (hamstring injury), as well as safety and leading tackler T.J. Ward and tight ends A.J. Derby and Virgil Green (all concussions) for Sunday’s game.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe, who aggravated a neck injury against New England on Sunday, is sick and listed as questionable to play. The Broncos will evaluate him again Saturday, but Kubiak said he’s hopeful Wolfe will be healthy enough to suit up.
“He got sick on us yesterday and tried to come in today and we ended up sending him to the doctor, so we’ll see,” Kubiak said Friday. “We got a lot of time on our hands before we play Sunday night. We’ll see.”
To bolster the depth at tight end behind Jeff Heuerman, the Broncos promoted rookie Henry Krieger-Coble from their practice squad and waived backup quarterback Austin Davis to clear a roster spot.
With Ward out, Kubiak said rookie safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks “are interchangeable” and both will play Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Throughout the week, Will and I are always in there in base (defense) anyway to get the certain looks in case we have to be thrown into the fire,” Simmons said. “Now it’s just going out there and executing. (Darian Stewart) and T.J. have done a great job, along with (cornerbacks) Chris (Harris) and Aqib (Talib) in helping us out, helping us adjust and picking up looks and tendencies, all that good stuff.”
Injuries have been piling up for the Broncos, and the loss of Ward, Marshall and their top tight end targets couldn’t come at a worse time.
At 8-6 and in ninth place in the
didn’t settle into their Chicago hotel until 3 a.m. Friday. Goalie Calvin Pickard, who played the last half of Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs, had 38 saves in a sensational goaltending display at both ends.
If Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (32 saves) was anything less than exceptional, the Avalanche would have snapped its goal-less drought long before it approached a franchise record spanning the bad teams of the Quebec Nordiques, before they relocated to Colorado in 1995.
“It was a lot of fun, playing against one of the best goalies in the league,” Pickard said. “It seemed like it was going to take a perfect shot to beat him tonight. We had breakaways, a lot of chances, and he was making some unbelievable saves. It was nice to see Mikko tie it up there, and once it was 1-1, you just had that feeling we would finish it off.”
Rantanen finally got a puck past Crawford early in the third period to forge a 1-1 tie. Barrie faked a shot and threw the puck at Rantanen’s stick, changing its direction and fooling Crawford. Colorado had been shut out 2-0 and 6-0 in its previous two games; the franchise record for consecutive shutout losses is two, happening six times.
The difference through two periods was Crawford’s remarkable save on Rantanen during the Avalanche’s first and only power play. At the other end, Pickard couldn’t make the same kind of save on Jonathan Toews, who scored on the power play to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Toews swatted the puck in from midair. Otherwise, Pickard was tremendous.
Rantanen had an open net to shoot at from the left post, but his tap-in was swatted away by Crawford’s paddle. The sprawling save preserved the Blackhawks’ lead and Colorado’s scoreless streak increased to eight consecutive periods.
“He robbed me once in the second period, and that was bothering me,” Rantanen said. “So it was nice to get it back.”
The Avs were the better team early. They produced the game’s first eight shots and outhit Chicago 16-6 in the first period. They outshot the Hawks 13-12 despite taking the only penalty of the frame.
“We felt like we were going to get rewarded eventually. We finally did in the third,” said MacKinnon. “‘Tys’ made a great play to Mikko and then another good play to me in overtime. It just shows that when we want to play, when we’re ready to play, we’re a very good team and can play with anybody.”
Mikko Rantanen (96) celebrates with his Avalanche teammates after scoring against the Blackhawks during the third period of Friday night’s game in Chicago. Kamil Krzaczynski, The Associated Press