Colorado star has 'upper-body injury'

What's worse than facing elimination in Game 4? For one thing, playing that potentially decisive game without your All-Star defensive leader.

The Colorado Avalanche face the prospect of taking on the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday without Rob Blake.

The team said Tuesday that Blake, who collided with Jonathan Cheechoo in Monday's Game 3, "most likely" will not play in Game 4.

Blake did not return after suffering an "upper-body injury" in the first period Monday in Denver. The Sports Network of Canada reported that replays showed the defenseman appearing to jam his arm as he hip-checked Cheechoo.

Blake was evaluated by team doctors Tuesday. X-rays were taken but results were not revealed, according to TSN.

A report from The Associated Press stated categorically that Blake will not play in Game 4, but it was the only report that didn't hedge and it didn't identify its source for that determination.

Colorado coach Tony Granato told the media that if the Avalanche extend the series by winning Wednesday, then Blake might be ready for the fifth game, which is scheduled for Saturday.

"Rob Blake is a great player, and you can't measure losing a guy like that," Avs forward Dan Hinote told USA Today. "But we have great depth in this organization and guys will step up."

Sharks hurting, too
Left wing Scott Thornton left Game 3 after just one shift with a "lower-body injury" and Mike Ricci, who "felt ill" after a first-period hit, played just seven minutes in the game, according to TSN.

San Jose coach Ron Wilson told the Rocky Mountain News the status of Thornton and center Alyn McCauley (shoulder) will be determined during pregame warm-ups Wednesday.

"We'll have to see who's going to be available, and we'll know at the arena," Wilson told the newspaper. "There's a chance Alyn will play. We thought he was going to play [Monday], but he didn't feel good in the pregame skate.

"We've approached every game thinking those guys aren't going to play, and it's an extra bonus if they do."

Ricci, who also is a center, is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.