Game 41 Preview: Sharks at Avalanche

Marc Piscotty

The Avalanche look for their third straight win on this season long home stand to close out the first half of the 2013-2014 regular season.

The last time these teams met was an emotional roller coaster for players and fans on both sides of the ice, with 3 lead changes, 3 goals in the final two minutes, and a goal for each team with the goalie pulled. What was almost the Avalanche's most inspiring win of the season, a 3rd period comeback anchored on goals from Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn was forced into overtime and an eventual shootout loss when Avalanche killer Joe Pavelski scored with just 20 seconds on the clock.

Now the Avalanche get another crack at San Jose, and this time on home ice, where it will be much easier for Coach Roy to match Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda against the Pavelski, Thornton, and Burns line, which seemed unstoppable against the Avalanche's 2nd and 3rd defensive pairings in their last matchup. Like the Flyers on Thursday, the Sharks enter the Pepsi Center on a hot streak, going 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and dominating the Oilers 5-1 in their last game. While the Sharks 26-9-6 record is impressive, they've gone just 11-8-3 on the road, good but beatable. The Avalanche have a big opportunity to protect their home ice, taking their 7 of 8 possible points so far with a win, and to finish their strong first half of the season with an emphatic two points in the standings.

Avalanche Projected Lines:

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Ryan O`Reilly

Max Talbot - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Nathan MacKinnon

Patrick Bordeleau - Marc Andre Cliche - Brad Malone

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich

Nick Holden - Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov

Sharks Projected Lines:

Pavelski - Thornton - Burns

Marleau - Couture - Nieto

Kennedy - Kearns - Sheppard

Hamilton - Desjardins - Brown

Braun - Vlasic

Irwin - Boyle

Demers - Stuart

Niemi

Quick Hits:

- Some speculation around the Avalanche's defensive substitutions on Thursday suggests that Guenin and Holden took the ice in anticipation of the Flyers large, physical forwards. If that's the case, they'll likely stay in the lineup for this matchup. Brent Burns: 6'5" 230, Joe Thornton: 6'4" 220, and Patrick Marleau 6'2" 220. Yikes.

- Speaking of Joe Thornton, the guy has 46 points in 41 games which is amazing. More amazing? The breakdown. 5 goals and 41 assists. Pavelski and Marleau have been the Sharks trigger men, with 17 and 18 goals respectively.

- Patrick Bordeleau is due for a goal. His shooting percentage, which was totally stable between 40 and 50% all season just imploded to an unsustainably low 33%. Bordeleau clearly worked a lot on his shot this summer, as he's doubled his goal output this season on half as many shots.

- Jamie McGinn has 2 goals in 2 games since moving back to Matt Duchene's line. Some people will say he's playing hungrier. I'd just say that Matt Duchene >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> John Mitchell.

- On a related note:

Dear Patrick Roy,

MacKinnon makes sense as a wing when he's playing with great talent at center like Duchene or Stastny. Please swap Mitchell and MacKinnon's spot on the third line (yes, Mitchell can still take the D-zone draws).

Thanks,

Cole

- In case you missed it, Roy announced Friday that Alex Tanguay will begin skating again this week. Depending on how his hip feels after Monday and Tuesday, Tanguay will decide whether to continue rehabbing in hopes of returning to the ice or undergo season ending hip surgery. Please not the second one. Please oh please not the second one.

- If the Western Conference standings are getting you down, or you're worried about the Avalanche's playoff chances, just remember.... we're twice as good as the Sabres. No, literally. They have 26 points in 41 games to our 54 points in 40 games. Also funny? The Blackhawks and Blues have scored more than twice as many goals as the Sabres (the Ducks miss the mark by just 2 goals... thanks Dan Winnik *canthitthesideofabarngrumblegrumble).

Puck Drops at 1:00 PM MST 3:00 PM EST on Altitude

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