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The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - December 10th, 2013

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

James Neal is going to be eating nachos for five games.

The NHL has suspended Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal for five games for kneeing Boston forward Brad Marchand in the head.

The incident occurred in the first period of Boston’s 3-2 home win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. After Marchand was tripped after trying to make a pass out of Boston’s zone, Neal hits Marchand’s head with his knee as he skates by.

Some expect the salary cap to be as high as 71 million next season.

A year ago things weren't so great for the NHL.

The lockout was becoming more contentious and threatening to cancel another season, and there was concern about the future of the league. Most importantly, commissioner Gary Bettman said, "We weren't playing."

When the playing resumed, fans returned and the money came pouring back. Revenues increased so much that next year's salary cap is expected to be roughly $71 million US, close to a 12-per cent increase from this season.

That's an estimate, but it's the figure Bettman delivered to the board of governors Monday.

"I said to the board there shouldn't be any issue or consternation. If that's the cap level, it's because the revenues have gone up," Bettman said. "We try to give people a sense of where we think it'll come out, but it's subject to a whole host of issues — ultimately how much revenue is generated, where the Canadian dollar is, because we convert to U.S. dollars. If you want a rough, rough, rough ballpark, OK, but it could change."

The Avalanche take on the Coyotes.

The Avalanche (20-8-0) also struggled against the Canucks, falling 3-1 on Sunday to finish a 1-2-0 trip. Jamie McGinn's goal with 7.1 seconds left in regulation helped Colorado avoid its first shutout of the season.

"We pulled the goalie with five minutes left in the game, and it was important for us as coaches to show our players that, 'We are not quitting,' and they did the same thing - they kept going," coach Patrick Roy said. "All year we've been like this. We never quit. We battled through, and I honestly thought we played a better game than (Vancouver). Unfortunately, we have nothing to show for the result."