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5 Things Preview: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche

San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche

Game 2 Leftovers

The last time these two teams met, the Colorado Avalanche jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the San Jose Sharks started to goon things up. They managed to climb back into things and make it 4-3, but couldn’t tie things up before the final buzzer sounded. Don’t think the Avs forgot about how the Sharks responded when they were down 4-0. For years the Sharks pushed around the Avs, and when the Avs finally had some success, the Sharks started to play dirty. If John Mitchell weren’t coming off a back injury, I’d lay money on him to drop the gloves since he was the recipient of a stick to groin in the last game between these two. While Mitchell may not fight, I fully expect Cody McLeod or Patrick Bordeleau to engage early.

The Return of John Mitchell

As mentioned, John Mitchell will return for this game and that’s a good thing for the Avs. He was played outstanding hockey before his injury and he really solidifies things down the middle. He’ll be back on the third line with Cody McLeod and Max Talbot, giving Patrick Roy 3 complete lines that he can trust. Even though Marc Andre Cliche has been a solid player this season, he’s been in over his head on the third line and will now resume his fourth line duties, where he’s much more suited. We can only hope that Mitchell isn’t being rushed back and he can remain healthy for the entire game because the spill he took looked nasty and he’s lucky that his back wasn’t broken.

Playoff Test

The playoffs are a whole different monster than the regular season, but when you’re not a playoff tested team like the Avs, these last couple of weeks against playoff bound teams and teams trying to fight for the playoffs are very important. The Sharks have made the playoffs for 9 straight seasons and will be there again this year. The last time the Avs made the playoffs, they were bounced in six games by the Sharks. While the intensity won’t quite match what the Avs will deal with in the playoffs, these games will be a strong indicator of what they can expect.

Watch Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton dominates a lot of teams. But the Avs in particular can never seem to handle “Jumbo Joe.” He has 50 points in 41 career games and 4 assists in the 2 games this season. The Avs don’t have a big psychical defender to deal with Thornton, which means Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, and the center really have to be on their game when Thornton and his linemates are on the ice. Johnson and Hejda bounced back after a couple of weak performances with a strong defensive effort against the Vancouver Canucks. They’ll have to continue that effort in this game.

Taking Over Second

The Chicago Blackhawks lost last night, giving the Avs a huge opportunity to take over second place in the division. The Avs are one point behind the Blackhawks with 2 games in hand and owning the tie breaker, meaning they are in the driver’s seat for home ice. They can not only clinch a playoff spot with a victory, but they can take over second place and put a lot of pressure on Chicago in the final two weeks as well.

Make sure to check out our Pregame Guide as well.

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Tags: Colorado Avalanche

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