Look on the bright side; that horrendous December is behind us.
The Colorado Avalanche open their 2019 tonight by officially bringing to an end the first half of their season. The Avs will look to avoid their sixth loss in a row as they play host to the San Jose Sharks who have been having an up and down season of their own.
Both teams sit third in their respective divisions, however the Sharks are building a lead on Anaheim while the Avalanche are falling back towards the much-maligned Dallas Stars. This is a big game for the Avalanche as they are going to need to turn things around quickly if they want to remain in the playoff picture at the All Star Break.
The top line has been scoring, the defense has been limiting the goals against and the team still isn’t winning. This is the time when the rest of the team needs to step up and push the team towards a victory.
Alex Kerfoot has only three points in his past 13 games and Tyson Jost is working on an eight game pointless streak. These are two guys that absolutely have to step up their game if Colorado is going to end their tumble down the standings.
It doesn't matter where they practice, we all know that Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen will end up back together during the game.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher
Sheldon Dries - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto - Gabriel Bourque - Logan O’Connor
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Ryan Graves
The Sharks come into tonight’s game sitting third in the Pacific Division.
As team that was expected to be near the top of the Western Conference this season, the Sharks have been incredibly inconsistent. After a stretch in which the won seven of eight games to start December, they have now lost four of their last six, including an 8-5 loss to Calgary a couple nights ago.
After finishing as the runner-up in the John Tavares sweepstakes, the Sharks added one of the best defensemen in the NHL when they traded for Erik Karlsson.
While Karlsson has been good, it’s been Brent Burns leading the way - as usual - with a team-high 40 points in 41 games.
While Rantanen is flying high for the Avalanche, the winger that the Sharks selected one pick before him in 2015 is having himself a breakout season as well. Timo Meier has 18 goals and 35 points through his first 38 games and is quickly becoming a star on the top line in San Jose.
Lukas Radil - Logan Couture - Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Evander Kane - Tomas Hertl - Kevin Labanc
Joonas Donskoi - Barclay Goodrow - Melker Karlsson
Radim Simek - Brent Burns
Brendan Dillon - Erik Karlsson
Marc-Eduard Vlasic - Justin Braun
After a less than impressive performance against the Kings on New Years Eve, Semyon Varlamov missed practice yesterday. Pavel Francouz was called up to fill in as the backup for Philipp Grubauer. Despite losing six of his last seven starts, Grubauer has looked good lately having allowed more than two goals only once in his past four starts.
We are likely to see Martin Jones for the Sharks. Jones has been underwhelming this season sporting a .898 sv%, but December was by far his best month so it looks like he has found his form.