Men Wearing Teal Expected to Invade Pepsi Center Tonight


This is a game preview for the San Jose Sharks taking on the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Pepsi Center. The contest pits the “yet to find their groove (or perhaps regressed)” Colorado Avalanche, against the “we don’t need a captain” San Jose Sharks. The Avalanche currently are sporting a 2-4-3 record, while the Sharks are 5-4-1. The Sharks are coming off a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks, a game that featured 165 combined penalty minutes between the teams thanks to a series of line brawls late in the game.

One thing going for the Avalanche, is the fact that the Sharks will be without the offensive talents of John Scott. Due to his role in the altercations in the Ducks game, Scott has been suspended for two games. It will certainly be a relief for the Avs to not have to worry about the offensive wizardry of the charming Scott, who has 3 goals and 4 assists in 241 career NHL games. Whoofda, Varly can exhale now.

The Avalanche will be looking to build some momentum in their home building, coming off a 7-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks the last time they played at Pepsi Center. A quick road trip to Winnipeg in between that game and tonight netted the Avalanche a point in the standings, thanks to a 2-1 overtime loss.

Although the Avalanche early season hasn’t been ideal, they can be proud of their penalty killing so far this season. The Avs are killing off opponent man-advantages at a clip of 88.6%, good for fourth best in the NHL. The unit figures to be tested this evening, because the Sharks are a top-10 power play team, at 25%. I guess you could say, they strike when there is blood in the water.

Statistically, the Avalanche power play isn’t something the players will be writing home about, at a 14.3% success rate. Things are looking up for the Avalanche though, with 4 PP goals in their last 3 games. The Sharks PK is middle of the road, so the Avalanche will have a good chance to continue their streak.

Matt Duchene has been a force for the Avs of late, and seems to be finding some nice chemistry with his new line-mate Jarome Iginla. The Avalanche’s other scoring line of Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, and Gabriel Landeskog is yet to get it going this season. You get the feeling, one of these nights, that trio is going to have a breakout game.

The Avalanche posted a 2-1-1 record against the Sharks last season, with both wins coming in regulation at home.

It is also worth noting, a good chunk of the US women’s national hockey team will be in attendance at Pepsi Center, with a potential autograph session during intermissions.

Avalanche Keys to the Game

1. Neutralize the Sharks Forecheck: This means defenseman need to be smart with the puck, and make good decisions. The Sharks have some big forwards who like to get into the zone hard. The best way for the Avalanche to counter this, is to slow the Sharks down in the neutral zone, and for the defenseman to be proactive and decisive with their passing and skating the puck out of the zone.

2. Get the goals flowing: This is sort of a silly thing to say, because obviously scoring goals wins games. The number I’m looking at for the Avs is 3. They have managed to score 3 goals a mere 3 times this season in 9 games. 9 divided by 3 is 3. If the Avalanche can start consistently hitting the 3-goal mark, they will start winning games. That needs to be the mission tonight, at minimum.

3. Play with confidence: The Avalanche are a talented team, and many of their key guys are youthful. The Avalanche feed off of momentum and seem to snowball more than many other teams, both positively and negatively. I don’t know if it is a maturity thing, or just the makeup of the guys on the roster, but a big key to Avalanche hockey is getting those good vibes flowing. In order to do that, the Avalanche need to come out and play with confidence. The same confidence they showed against Vancouver.