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Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL September 24th, 2014

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

TSN takes a closer look at MacKinnon's numbers.

There's been exhaustive talk about the inevitable regression facing the Colorado Avalanche - a team that more or less rode the percentages to an improbable playoff berth last season.

We no longer approach teams like last year's Avalanche club with questions about whether their strategy at even strength - which at least last year, was get out-shot and win regularly - is sustainable for the long-term.

The real question is whether teams in these precarious situations can do enough with their current roster to improve on last year's performances and hope to mitigate the expected drop-off in point production.

Colorado's a particularly interesting case for this. The Avalanche may have been treated as a paper tiger all through last year despite their winning ways, but there are legitimate questions about whether player development can stave off some of the expected regression.

Cumiskey is readjusting to life in the NHL.

Kyle Cumiskey wasn’t happy with his play or his situation the latest time he played in North America, in 2012.

Cumiskey was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Anaheim Ducks in October 2011, and he spent that entire season in the AHL. He was also displeased with his game then. Cumiskey thought a change would do him good, and he decided to go to Europe.

After two seasons in Sweden, Cumiskey, a 27-year-old defenseman, is now back and giving the NHL another shot. He signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason and suited up Tuesday for his first NHL game since 2011. It was only a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, but it was a significant step in Cumiskey’s return.

“It’s always nerve-wracking when you know you’re getting evaluated,” said Cumiskey, who played 18:00 in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime win. “Every shift means something. Of course [I was nervous], but I felt like I didn’t overdo it and handled it pretty well tonight.

“It took a little getting used to," he added. "It was pretty quick off the start. I felt not bad actually, though. I felt like I got up to speed throughout the game. Just try to improve every game from here on out.”

There is a culture change starting in the NHL, enforcers are expected to, you know, play hockey well.

On Monday night, in the first period of a game that has already been forgotten, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Frazer McLaren dropped his gloves for a fight. Video replay suggests at least 38 punches were thrown over 40 furious seconds.

On Tuesday, McLaren had a swollen knuckle and cuts on his fingers. It was only the fifth day of training camp.

“It’s definitely hard on the body and it’s definitely strenuous mentally; there’s a lot of anxiety that goes with it, the build-up toward fighting,” he said in a quiet moment by the dressing room. “But at the same time, I think the Phil Kessels and the elite players in the league, if you ask those guys, I think they carry the utmost respect for guys like Colton and other guys around the league who play that role.”

The Caps showed off their new Winter Classic look.

With Alex Ovechkin wearing flip-flops and a borrowed pair of baseball pants on a warm start-of-autumn day, the Washington Capitals have unveiled the uniforms they’ll wear when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Nationals Park.

At a news conference Tuesday at the baseball stadium, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis says he lobbied NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman from the moment the puck dropped for the first Winter Classic, in 2008.

Jordan Staal broke his leg in a preseason game.

Carolina Hurricanes centre Jordan Staal broke his lower right leg in a NHL pre-season game at Buffalo on Tuesday night, general manager Ron Francis said.

Staal is scheduled to return to Raleigh, N.C., with the team Wednesday after its pre-season game against the New York Islanders, and will be evaluated by team doctors the next day.

Francis said he didn't have a timetable for Staal's recovery.

Staal had initial tests taken immediately following the 2-0 loss. Francis issued a statement with the diagnosis roughly two hours after the game.

"I'm concerned for sure. He's a big piece of what we're going to do moving forward," new coach Bill Peters said before learning of the severity of the injury.