Colorado Avalanche Must Win Home Game Against Sharks

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Gabriel Bourque
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Gabriel Bourque /

The Colorado Avalanche face a critical game against the San Jose Sharks. They must win at home to help bolster their playoff chances.

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting an important Western Conference showdown against the San Jose Sharks. After tonight, the Avs head out for three more road games.

The Avalanche are coming off a lethargic 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Central Division rival Winnipeg Jets. The Sharks beat the Carolina Hurricanes so badly at 3-1, the ‘Canes coach is apparently demoralized. (A 3-1 loss is humiliating? The 2016-17 Avs are saying, “Hold my beer.”)

All time, Colorado has a slight advantage over the Sharks, going 52-45-7-5(ties). The two teams met two times last year. San Jose took both games. The Sharks have already visited Pepsi Center this year, on January 18. They lost 5-3.

Nathan MacKinnon got two goals, and Mikko Rantanen got the game-winner. And that’s a big sigh — see below.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 6 , 7 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), NBCSCS (Sharks feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Injury Update

For those of you keeping track at home, tonight marks the third of hopefully only seven games MacKinnon misses due to a shoulder injury. As I noted above, Nate was a big factor in the Avalanche beating the Sharks last game.

According to Denver Post writer Mike Chambers, MacKinnon skated before Colorado’s practice yesterday by himself:

Nonetheless, the timeline hasn’t changed for MacKinnon’s return.

Another bit of bad news came to us yesterday. Top right winger Mikko Rantanen missed practice yesterday in what was initially a maintenance day. However, coach Jared Bednar later stated that Rantanen was “banged up a little bit” and is “questionable” for the game against the Sharks.

At the time of writing, that question hadn’t been answered. If Rantanen is out, Colin Wilson is skating with Alexander Kerfoot and Gabriel Landskog on the top line.

Neither Sven Andrighetto nor Mark Barberio practiced, and neither is expected to play tonight. Though he’s healthy and made a relatively good showing in Winnipeg, Semyon Varlamov is sitting in favor of Jonathan Bernier.


More from Mile High Sticking

It was a questionable that the Colorado Avalanche would make the playoffs this year with Nathan MacKinnon in the lineup. It looks even less likely with his convalescing in recovery of a shoulder injury.

Right now, the Avs have a 28-19-4 record, which is good for 60 points. Unfortunately, the (hated) Minnesota Wild have 61 points and are in possession of the final wild card berth. Also unfortunately, the officials blew a disallowed goal call against the Blues  back in October. The goal was a game-tyer late in the third — which would have probably awarded Colorado a point.

No, really, this was a call that the NHL came out and said was the wrong call. The disallowed goal cost Colorado a point in the standings. If the correct call had been made, the Avs would have 61 points with a game in hand. And, therefore, a wild card berth.

Right now isn’t crunch time for the playoffs. Colorado still has 31 games to play. However, we all should watch how close the race to the playoffs is at the end of the season.

Next: Musing After the Winnipeg Loss

After tonight, the Colorado Avalanche will meet the San Jose Sharks only one more time. They’ll make their first and only trip to San Jose on April 5.