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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Shark infested waters

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Can the Avalanche salvage the California roadtrip and put pressure on St. Louis?

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche
San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) makes a save on a deflection from Colorado Avalanche left wing Blake Comeau (14) in the second period at the Pepsi Center.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche have had two days off in California after a disasterous weekend that saw the team take only one point out of a possible four. To make things worse, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings were able to clinch playoff spots largely due to wins over the Avs. Tonight, the Avalanche will be playing a San Jose Sharks team that is comfortably in the playoffs and coming off a tough 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

With St. Louis’s last second loss to the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday, Colorado is back in the driver’s seat and have the ability to control their own destiny.

Basically, winning tonight would mean the St. Louis Blues would have to sweep their final back-to-back to end the season against chicago and our very own Avalanche. Barring a win tonight and a STL loss tomorrow, the entire season comes down to Saturday Night between the Blues and the Avs, winner goes to the playoffs.

With Semyon Varlamov out for the season with a lower-body injury, it’s down to Jonathan Bernier to win the two biggest games of the season. No pressure, Bernie.

Back to the game at hand, the Avalanche have scored five power play goals in their past three games and will go up against the league’s best penalty kill in the Sharks. They boast a 85.14% kill rate, going up against a near top-10 Colorado power play that is clicking at 21.58% this season. The penalty kill for the Avs has been a bright spot for the team, it’s sitting at 83.77% good for third in the league.


Colorado Avalanche

It’s the stretch drive, the Avs need to power through the final two games of the season. Both will be tough opponents in case the players needed any more motivation.

Sven Andrighetto has turned it on after returning to the lineup after his injury. His 22 points ni last 48 games has earned him a promotion to the second line with Kerfoot and Jost.

It will be all hands on deck tonight if the Avs are going to have a chance at beating back the Sharks. Presumed starter Jonathan Bernier and Mikko Rantanen both skipped morning skate after a heavy practice in San Jose yesterday, a good sign they’ll be in the lineup tonight.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Alexander Kerfoot - Tyson Jost - Sven Andrighetto

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Nail Yakupov - J.T. Compher - Gabriel Bourque

Defense

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

David Warsofsky - Samuel Girard

Patrik Nemeth - Mark Alt


San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have known for a while that they will be in the playoffs, and as a result, have been been resting players sporadically for the past two weeks. A record of 0-3-1 against the Blues, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars has reduced their lead for second in the Pacific down to only one point so it will be interesting if they continue to rest players — potentially in a hope to play Vegas in the first round — or bring their players back to give them some reps before the playoffs.

From Fear the Fin:

Let’s be honest: it’s not like the Sharks sent out their A-Team against the Stars. No Joe Thornton and no Evander Kane for the top line. No Eric Fehr, who has been surprisingly solid on the fourth line, and no Barclay Goodrow, who is the second-best fourth line center this team has. No Joakim Ryan on defense, and while Martin has been fine in his absence, the underlying issues in Martin’s game haven’t just disappeared. Add to it a first-ever NHL game for former NCAA player Dylan Gambrell, and there’s the Sharks’ B-squad.

I would love to quote Fear the Fin’s entire preview because it’s great, but Tom said no. So go read their preview!

Projected lineup:

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Martin Jones


Starting Goalies

It appears Bernier and Martin Jones will be facing off against each other tonight.

Jones has been quiet and solid for the Sharks this season, he’s been close to a .920 save percentage goalie for most of the season and is sitting at a .917 heading into tonight.

Bernier has shown extended flashes of brilliance this season but he’s struggled in front of a team that has been forcing offense as much as the Avs are when down. Going into this game, Bernier has a .912 save percentage in 35 games.