The State of California doesn’t think this game should happen. Last week, public health officials from Santa Clara County called for new measures to prevent the COVID-19 virus from circulating in the community, including canceling large gatherings like sporting events.
The San Jose Sharks are ignoring this advice as they are set to go ahead with their game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Sharks have sold a season-low number of tickets for this game, so it might be a quiet crowd at the SAP Center tonight.
So far, the only measures the NHL is willing to take is a new mandate to keep all media members out of the locker rooms after the games. That said, on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night, Chris Johnston mentioned that the league has asked arenas for available nights at the end of April - in case they are forced to postpone upcoming regular season games.
Both teams will be looking to block out these off-ice distractions as each comes into this game having lost their last two.
Back in January, the Avalanche shut out San Jose 4-0 on the back of a Val Nichushkin game winning goal.
After having their seven game winning streak snapped last week, the Avs have now lost two games in a row, so they’ll be looking to get back on track tonight against a team they should beat.
With a win tonight, the Avalanche could pull into a tie with St. Louis for first place in the Conference and more importantly, the top seed going into the playoffs.
Gabriel Landeskog continues to play his best hockey of the season. He is riding a seven game point streak, during which he has four goals and six assists. Nathan MacKinnon also appears to be heating up as he has five points over his last three games. This is a good sign for the Avs, as they’re going to need their top players to start dominating the way we know they can as the playoffs approach.
After being a healthy scratch Friday night, it is expected that Nikita Zadorov will be back in the lineup tonight.
UPDATE: Zadorov will be out of the lineup again tonight
Gabe Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Vladislav Namestnikov
Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Vlad Kamenev - Tyson Jost - Val Nichushkin
Sheldon Dries - P-E Bellemare - Logan O’Connor
Ryan Graves - Sam Girard
Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Kevin Connauton - Mark Barberio
SAN JOSE SHARKS
With a number of their best players out for the remainder of the season, the Sharks just flat out aren’t a good team. They sold off a number of players at the deadline and now they’re just playing out the stretch run. What makes it even worse for Sharks fans is that they don’t own their own first round pick, so they can’t even occupy themselves with draft lottery scenarios.
That said, the team has been playing ok as of late. They’ve lost two in a row but have points in four of their last five games.
Evander Kane leads San Jose with 25 goals while Timo Meier has a a team high 45 points in 68 games.
Evander Kane - Logan Couture - Dylan Gambrell
Timo Meier - Joe Thornton - Kevin Labanc
Marcus Sorensen - Joel Kellman - Antti Suomela
Melker Karlsson - Alexander True - Stefan Noesen
Radim Simek - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Mario Ferraro
Brandon Davidson - Tim Heed
With the Avalanche going back to back in the next two days, we’re likely to see Michael Hutchinson in one of the two games. That said, it’s probably going to be Pavel Francouz who gets the start tonight against the Sharks. After an incredible stretch - in which he was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars in consecutive weeks - Francouz has let in nine goals in the last two games and will be looking for a bounce back tonight.
For the Sharks, we’re likely to see Martin Jones who comes into the game with a .898 sv% on the season.