San Jose Sharks Round 2 Reconnaissance of the Colorado Avalanche

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 06: Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks skates after the puck against Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on April 06, 2019 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 06: Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks skates after the puck against Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on April 06, 2019 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Erik Johnson streaks through the neutral zone against the San Jose Sharks
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 2: Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center on January 2, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)”n /


The Colorado Avalanche aren’t as top heavy defensively compared to their forward group, but still have some effective skaters on every pairing. Overall there isn’t one glaring name that can really be labeled as a liability for the Avs. If utilized properly this team has all the components that make up a solid playoff defensive core.

Tyson Barrie is an integral part of the Colorado Avalanches success on offense. Along with the top line, Barrie got to witness a bulk of the goals scored by the Avs this season. Whenever Colorado found themselves in the offensive zone it was almost a guarantee that Barrie would be out running point. He led all Colorado blueliners with 5 points (all assists) and 20 shots on goal in 5 games against the Calgary Flames.

His smooth skating and deceivingly strong shooting ability blend well with the Avs unrelenting top line of forwards. Barrie’s skill allows him to pinch down along the boards and get involved with the play in near the slot area or behind the net. His shot has the uncanny ability of getting to dangerous areas of the ice which translates into scoring chances for his teammates.

On the flip side of things if Colorado is looking for a crucial defensive stop and zone exit they turn to their more defensively sound parings consisting of Ian Cole or Erik Johnson. Usually playing with separate line mates at 5v5, the duo was called upon to team up to help limit stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to only 2 points in 5 games in their first round match-up with the Flames.

Ian Cole gets the bulk of the tough defensive assignments, starting in the defensive zone 34.11% of the time, per Corsica.Hockey. He will be most likely be the man tasked with attempting to limit Tomas Hertl’s impact on series. Cole has had a sneakily impressive season for the Avs. He boasted a positive CF%, FF%, and SF% at 5v5, but suffered mightily from lackluster goaltending that plagued the team for most of the year.

The Avalanche elder statesmen Erik Johnson has been in the league for 11 seasons and has only seen two playoff series. His steady play and veteran presence have led the Avalanche for 9 seasons now but has only been in 12 postseason games. The 2006 1st overall pick is usually tasked with guiding younger players through unfamiliar circumstances. However he finds himself in the same position with this being his first ever appearance in the 2nd round of the playoffs.

The rest of this defensive core is rounded out by a few interesting components. Samuel Girard who will return to the lineup in the 2nd round has some serious offensive talent and complements Erik Johnson’s stay at home style of play. Anticipate the two of them to reunite considering they spent a bulk of the regular season together.

Nikita Zadorov the 24-year-old Russian brings size, physicality, and a checking presence to a team that lacks grit at times. The Sharks are going to be careful and not let Zadorov replicate the Ryan Reeves strategy that hurt the Team Teal in the first round.

Patrick Nemeth provides some variety on the left side and is useful on the penalty kill. He’s filled in well in the absences of some key contributors for the Avalanche.

Last but not least there’s Cale Makar the late season addition from the NCAA. Makar stunned on lookers around the league by netting his first shot on goal of his career. The Avalanche are getting nearly a full week of practice time ahead of this series, perhaps that could benefit the 20-year-old and get him better acclimated with the new system and teammates. Watch out for Maker to be a potential X-factor  in the second round. He has tons of high end skate speed and skill in the neutral and offensive zones.

Bednar has a good problem to have with 7 defenseman who are capable of contributing on a Stanley Cup roster. The third year coach in the NHL loves to utilize match-ups and relies heavily on specific defenseman to play in their preferred zone of play. It will be interesting to see who which members of the San Jose Sharks he feels can do the most damage to his club.