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Game 81 Preview: Avs visit the San Jose Sharks

What what, who's number 1!!! Can we hold onto the lead through the evening?

Doug Pensinger

Well, with a good win last night and a bunch of standings stuff to cover, I might actually have a moment to talk about the Sharks in this preview somewhere. I hope.

The Avs face the Sharks on the second half of a back-to-back; the team apparently doesn't land in Cali until like 3am local time (they're not even flying to SJ, they have to hit San Francisco and bus it down), so they are going to be a tired bunch. Lets see how bright they are going to look on the ice tomorrow night. At least they get a boost with the re-addition of P.A. Parenteau to the lineup, but I didn't hear anything about Cody McLeod. I don't even know if he's on the roadtrip; I assume he is, especially since there aren't any more home games.

Of greater significance is the return of Reto Berra to the crease. In the post-game comments after the win in Vancouver, Roy was very emphatic that Berra would start the game tonight (standings be damned). This is to give Varly a break before the playoffs begin; Jiggy will be backup. Berra's first game with the Avs wasn't stellar, but now that he's had time in the system, working with Allaire and his crew, I am much more hopeful. I also was very impressed with the vigor that Roy used when he talked about Berra starting; he didn't waiver or anything, and showed confidence in the guy. I like that. I hope its not misplaced.

Tonight is super important for the standings, and we are going to have to keep our eyes on like three things at once. We have our game, and Chicago and St. Louis both play, so we have to fend them off. All three teams have 2 games remaining (including tonight), so its all going to come down to the wire. Now that I actually bother to count, Chicago can't technically catch us at this point, since we have all the tie- breakers, but I would like to see them not even come close. Yay home ice!

St. Louis faces the Dallas Stars tonight. The stars have won 6 of their last 10, which beats the Bloos, who have won 5 of their last 10. I would love to see the Stars take this one and increase the Bloos losing streak to 5. On a related note, the Minnesota Wild's Mike Rupp blindsided T.J. Oshie, possibly concussing him, and will certainly face the no-longer-Shanaban-hammer. Luckily for them (not for us), they have Alexander Steen back, so they might still be able to keep things up. Ew.

Lets see, what else? Oh, yeah, those pesky Sharks! The Sharks have had a pretty damn fine year, I kinda forget now that we aren't seeing them as much, and we have suddenly TAKEN OVER FIRST IN THE CENTRAL DIVISION! Huh? Oh yeah, Fish. San Jose is locked into seeing the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs, so there's no mystery there, but 107 points is nothing to sneeze at. They haven't been finishing very strong this season, going only 4-4-2 in their last 10. Even so, they would love to spoil us taking over the top spot, so we are going to have to work really hard to take the win. This will be the fourth and final game facing the Sharks this year, and we have taken the series 2-0-1 thus far.

We need to keep an eye on a few of those guys; Joe Thornton has racked up 5 assists against us, Brent Burns has 4 points, and Joe Pavelski has 3 goals. Lets not let them get any more, mmmkay? Pavelski has been especially good of late, going at a point per game pace in the month of April.

The game is at 8pm MT tonight; STL Bloos play at 6:30pm MT. For you Denverites, Altitude has been pimping their viewing party at Gov Park starting at 7:30. You know you want Bernie's autograph, and a chance to pick which Dodge Ram Ice Girl uses the most makeup to cover her acne, right? And there's no detoilet game today, so the place won't be infested with wheeled jerseys.

Oh, of note, get those playoff beards ready. Starting on Monday, we'll be having a friendly contest on who's Flawless Facial Fringe is strongest, so mentally prepare yourselves. As a reminder, the rules of playoff beards is that you have to start them from scratch!

Go Avs Go!!!