The hobbled San Jose Sharks waste no time heading straight into the second round against a rested Colorado Avalanche squad tonight at the SAP Center.
After a 7 Game slug-fest against the Vegas Golden Knights, the San Jose Sharks face-off versus a high-octane Avalanche squad looking to upset another member of the Pacific Division with Stanley Cup aspirations.
The Colorado Avalanche haven’t played for an entire week after extinguishing the Calgary Flames in 5 games. This gave them plenty of time to game plan for whatever’s left of Team Teal in round 2.
Colorado doesn’t have nearly the same amount of depth in their line-up as the Sharks. So watch out Coach Bednar to utilize his top gun Nathan MacKinnon in the offensive zone when possible. He also likes to relies heavily on Ian Cole in a defensive role. He’ll most likely be tasked with shutting down Tomas Hertl’s line which has shown an ability to score at will when deployed properly.
The youth of the San Jose Sharks sealed Game 7 with their strong play in their 3rd period comeback and will be relied on heavily again in Game 1. There will likely be a carry over effect for the Sharks in the early stages of this one. But don’t be shocked if Team Teal has trouble finding their legs in the third frame. That makes scoring (and not allowing any) early goals against this high-powered Avs squad all the more critical.
Slowing down the big 3 of Nathan MacKinnon. Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog is an impossible task. The best the Sharks can do is suppress the damage done while they are on the ice. All 3 of them were on the ice for at least 75% of goals scored during their first round series. A full week of rest all but assures that the home crowd at the Tank will be seeing lots of these highly skilled forwards in high pressure situations.
The San Jose Sharks will be without their captain Joe Pavelski in this one, and his return is unknown. Coach Pete DeBoer listed his injury as day-to-day but assured everyone that Pavs will return when ready. Joonas Donskoi also won’t be on the ice for Game One, with Dylan Gambrell taking his place.
On the flip side of things the Avalanche have a few questions surrounding their line-up that need answered as well. Samuel Girard and Derick Brassard will return from injury and illness respectively. This gives Coach Jared Bednar a good problem to have trying to slot in all these effective skaters.
It’s sort of murky considering the amount of injuries, call-ups, and players returning from time off. But here’s what to anticipate as far as line configurations, defensive pairings, and starting netminders for Game 1.
San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier ~ Logan Couture ~ Gus Nyquist
Evander Kane ~ Tomas Hertl ~ Lukas Radil
Marcus Sorensen~ Joe Thornton ~ Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow ~ Dylan Gambrell ~ Melker Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic ~ Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon ~ Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan ~ Justin Braun
Projected Starter ~ Martin Jones
Backup ~ Aaron Dell
Gabriel Landeskog~ Nathan MacKinnon ~ Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson ~ Carl Soderberg ~ Mikko Rantanen
Matt Calvert ~ JT Compher ~ Matt Nieto
Tyson Jost ~ Derick Brassard ~ Samuel Girard
Ian Cole ~ Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov ~ Tyson Barrie
Cale Makar ~ Patrik Nemeth
Projected Starter ~ Philipp Grubauer
Backup ~ Semyon Varlamov
These two clubs have taken very different paths to get to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However they both find themselves just 12 wins away from a championship. The Sharks appear to be favored in this series, but shouldn’t overlook this dangerously skilled Avalanche squad seeking back-to-back upsets.
Puck drop for tonight’s game at the SAP Center is at 7:00 PM PT. The game will be televised nationally on NBCSN. The audio can be streamed on the Sharks App courtesy of 98.5 KFOX.