Dec 23, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) tries to control the puck while be defended by San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin (52) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

5 Things Preview: Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks

Reto Berra’s Second Impression

Reto Berra wasn’t great in his Avalanche debut against the Winnipeg Jets. He lost in overtime after giving up five goals on 27 shots and looked shakey from the start. I gave him a pass for that game because it was his first start with a new team. Now he’s had time to adjust to the Avs and the way of Patrick Roy and Francois Allaire. He needs to have a good game. Not just because the Avs could use a win, but because Berra needs to endear himself to Avalanche nation if we’re going to trust him moving forward.

P.A. Parenteau’s Return

Parenteau has missed the last 15 games, but he’ll be back in the lineup against the Sharks. My guess is that he’ll play on a line with Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog, which means John Mitchell will move back to the third line. Parenteau’s return will help the Avs in a variety of ways, but he could be most important on the powerplay, where his vision and passing is unmatched.

Tough Travel

The Avs had a game in Vancouver last night and reportedly won’t get into San Jose until later this afternoon after having to go through customs and take a bus into the city. It’s the last back-to-back on the season for the Avs and it might be the toughest. If the team does get off to a poor start, hopefully they can get their legs under them before it’s too late.

Containing Joe Thornton

Joe Pavelski might score timely goals against the Avs, but Joe Thornton is the one who dominates. Thornton hasn’t scored in three games, but he has five points in three games against the Avs this season and has 51 points in 42 career games. While Pavelski might score a big goal for the Sharks, it’ll likely be Thornton setting him up.

Controlling Destiny

The Avalanche control their own destiny in the Central Division. They currently lead the division, and if they win their next two games, they’ll win the division and possibly the Western Conference. They’ve already clinched second place in division, meaning at worst they’ll host the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. The St. Louis Blues play the Dallas Stars at 8:30 PM EST tonight. If they lose and the Avs win, the Avs will clinch the division.

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