The Avalanche find themselves in the “Shark Tank” tonight as they make the first stop on their three game road trip, tonight in San Jose. Colorado is in a must-win situation for the first time this season. A win keeps the Avs close in the Western Conference race for the playoffs. A loss distances the Avalanche further from 8th place and makes their dream more unattainable.
Tonight’s matchup should be a rather notable one. With most of the Avalanche team still fuming over the loss to Vancouver, the Sharks could be in serious trouble. The offense of the Avs was firing on all cylinders as the Avalanche were relentless with their attack against the Canucks. The defense was another story. Looking lost at times, the defensive pairings looked to be on two different pages. Hopefully the long flight to San Jose made adequate time for the pairings to work out their troubles.
Another part of the game of Colorado that needs to be addressed is the penalty situation. The Avs were in the box too much against Vancouver Saturday and if they do that against the Sharks tonight, fans can expect the same result. The Avalanche need to stay out of the penalty box in order to let their potent offense work. It is impossible to create offensive pressure while killing penalties.
Head Coach Joe Sacco has said that Semyon Varlamov is the pony that the Avs will ride to the playoffs, naming Varly the starter for the remaining 5 games. It serves fitting that Varlamov would be rewarded this task as he as been playing out of his mind lately. Varly even got into the scoring side of things Saturday notching the team’s first assist from a goalie this season. If Varlamov gets the much-needed defensive support tonight, Colorado, and Varlamov, should come away with a much-needed win.
The other games of interest to Avs fans tonight include, Dallas against Calgary and L.A. against Vancouver. If Dallas wins, they keep their number 3 spot in the West and make it near impossible for Calgary to reach the postseason. A win from the Flames and they are back in the middle of it with a date against Colorado Friday that will be of utmost importance to them. The other game on tap is L.A. and Vancouver. The Kings have been playing great hockey as of late and have a chance to jump back into the number 3 spot with a win and a Dallas loss. If the Kings lose they will remain in the muck known as 7th-11th place in the West.
More importantly if Colorado wins tonight they will have 88 points and move into sole possession of 7th, with either, or both, Dallas and L.A. losing. As we have said many times, the Avalanche need to capitalize on every opportunity this late into the season and they flat out missed a huge one on Saturday. That game is over and the Avs need to focus on seizing the opportunity presented tonight. Win and their playoff hopes are still alive, lose and some miracles need to happen if the Avalanche want to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup in a couple of weeks.
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