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Preview: Avalanche at Sharks, Avalanche at Kings

The Avs take a quick trip to the left coast this weekend, taking on San Jose on Friday and then Los Angeles on Saturday, before returning home to host the Sharks on Monday.

Programming Alert: I meant to mention this in my original post: I probably won't have any notes or recap for the San Jose game. I probably won't even watch the game until tomorrow afternoon. I may post something when I do, but I'm not making any plans to do so. I should have the Kings game covered as normal.

The big news is that TJ Hensick has been recalled. Both Shane and I have speculated that the move might be related to a Joe Sakic groin injury, but there hasn't been any news about that at all. Assuming Sakic does play, I'm guessing Hensick will play on the 3rd line at some point with Tyler Arnason and Ryan Smyth. I say "at some point", as it's become SOP for call-ups for the Avs to watch their first game from the press box.


The other big news is that someone's letter has been received; according to the RMN, the rotation is over for the moment and Peter Budaj will start against the Sharks and, perhaps, against the Kings as well!

Going into tonight, the Avalanche are 3rd in the NW with 27 points. The Sharks are in similar, um, waters with 26 points (and are 3rd in the Pacific). The Kings are struggling with 21 points, tied with Edmonton for the worst record in the West.

The Avalanche and Sharks split the 4 games last year 2-2 (one of the Avs wins was in OT). Colorado outscored San Jose 13-11. They were generally high-scoring games - 7 goals were scored in 3 of the 4 games. The Avalanche had trouble with the potent San Jose powerplay - San Jose had 7 PP goals (plus one shorthander) to the Avs 4. Budaj and Theodore each played 2 games against the Teal Monsters and each won once.

Looking at the rankings, I think it's clear that we could be in trouble against San Jose. When a 28th-ranked powerplay faces the top-ranked penalty kill, good things don't happen...

  • Goals For/G - COL 2.83 (13th), SJ 2.56 (19th)

  • Goals Against / G - COL 2.96 (22nd), SJ 2.09 (2nd)

  • Powerplay - COL 13.5% (28th), SJ 17.1% (17th)

  • Penalty Kill - COL 81.7% (18th), SJ 90.4% (1st)

Last year, games between the Avs and Kings were high flying affairs. After winning the first meeting 6-1 (with Budaj in net), the Avs lost the final 3 meetings (6-5, 5-4 and 6-5 in a shootout). Despite the 1-2-1 record, the Avs had a 20-18 scoring advantage. Two of the losses were games started by Theodore (one was that weird game where Budaj came in down 5-1 and got saddled with the 6-5 loss because he was on the ice for the winning goal). The Avs had a whopping 10 PP goals in the 4 games, with the Kings scoring 4 (plus one short-hander).

After facing the Shark's competent kill, the Kings might be a sight for sore eyes. Last year, the lowest scoring game between LA and Colorado was 7 goals (6-1); based on the stats, expect more of the same.

  • Goals For/G - COL 2.83 (13th), LA 2.67 (16th)

  • Goals Against / G - COL 2.96 (22nd), LA 3.12 (27th)

  • Powerplay - COL 13.5% (28th), LA 18.3 (12th)

  • Penalty Kill - COL 81.7% (18th), LA 78.7% (26th)

In the last ten games for the Avs, Paul Stastny (4g-6a-10pts, +4) and Milan Hejduk (3g-6a-9pts, +3) are hot. Marek Svatos (2g-0a-2pts,-1) is not. Also, the tandem of Hannan and Cumiskey is a combined -11 in the last 10 games.