Colorado Avalanche Play Latest Most Important Game against Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 21: Mikko Rantanen
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 21: Mikko Rantanen /
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The Colorado Avalanche face yet another must-win situation as they visit the Sharks in San Jose.

The Colorado Avalanche are still in the playoff hunt. In the penultimate game of the season, the Avalanche are still relevant.

Of course, with the Avs still being relevant, we’re faced with nerve-wracking hockey. Not only does every game for Colorado count, but we have to score-watch, too. The Avalanche are fighting with three other teams for three playoff berths. One will be left behind.

Truth be told, the Avs are only fighting with one other team — the St. Louis Blues. Either the Anaheim Ducks or the LA Kings will finish third in the Pacific Division, so both making the playoffs will not eliminate the Avs. However, neither Colorado nor St. Louis can finish in anything but a wild card spot.

The Avalanche need to beat the St. Louis Blues. But first, they need to beat the team they’re facing tonight, the San Jose Sharks.

This season Colorado has beat the Sharks both times they met, with a score of 5-3 and 3-1 respectively. However, that was at Pepsi Center, where the Avs dominate. As we discovered in Los Angeles, everything changes when you come out to Cali.

That said, the St. Louis Blues lost in regulation last night. If the Colorado Avalanche could win this game… boy, that would make their playoff chances look good.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: April 5, 8:30 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude (Avs feed), NBCSCA (Sharks feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Top Line Must Score

Nathan MacKinnon and/or his linemates must score. The team goes as they go, especially MacKinnon. He’s the best player on the team and one of the best in the NHL.

Unfortunately, he’s having a scoring drought. He’s creating some chances, and he’s got five points in the last eight. However, it’s been eight games since he scored.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog hasn’t scored a goal, other than in the shootout, in the same amount of time. He has just three assists in eight games.

Mikko Rantanen has fared a little better. In that same time period he has three goals and two assists. However, he’s been held off the scoresheet entirely in five of those games.

Rookie Chem

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On the flip side, a couple of rookies have stepped up their game recently. Tyson Jost has two goals and an assist in the last three games. He’s getting shots on goal and logging around 16 minutes a game — he’s on the first power play unit.

Alexander Kerfoot is still leading the rookies in scoring. In the last three games, he has two goals and two assists. He’s on the second power play unit and gets less ice time than Jost — around 14 minutes per game.

Rookie defenseman Samuel Girard got an assist in the Chicago game. He’s played 20 minutes per game the last three, since Erik Johnson has been out. He quarterbacks the second power play unit, which I think has been more effective recently.

60 Minutes, 200-Feet

At the end of the day, hockey is a team sport. Whomever is doing the scoring, the team has to be better about game management.

What’s gotten them recently has been what always gets them — not playing a full 60 minutes. In this San Jose Sharks game, they have no choice but to come out hot, stay hot, finish hot. They need to keep their step going. And when something inevitably goes against them, they need to shake it off.

A relatively new development is a hesitation to play all 200 feet of the ice. Their forecheck has always been inconsistent, but recently their backcheck has been shotty. They can’t afford these lapses because good teams like the Sharks capitalize on them.

Next: Zadorov Developing Leadership Skills

After tonight, the Colorado Avalanche only have one more game in the regular season. It’s looking good like that game, played at Pepsi Center against the St. Louis Blues, will determine who goes to the playoffs.