The NHL has the final game of the second round set up on Wednesday night. The Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks will meet in a Game 7 matchup with a berth in the Western Conference Finals on the line. These two teams have met in an exciting series, in which has gone back and forth. This game will begin at around 9:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Avalanche were able to make their second straight playoff appearance this season with a record of 38-30-14 in the regular season. Colorado was able to make it past the first round this season with a five-game victory over the Calgary Flames in Round 1. The Avalanche will look to make it to the Conference Finals with an upset on the road against the Sharks on Wednesday night.
San Jose finished the regular season with a record of 46-27-9. The Sharks had a strong season, but struggled near the end of the season. San Jose bounced back in the first round, winning a seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Sharks were knocked out in the second round last season and will look to avoid that fate with a win on home ice to move on to the Western Conference Finals.
The Avalanche and the Sharks met up a total of three times in the regular season, with San Jose sweeping that series 3-0. Both teams have been playing much tighter games in the playoff series, which I believe will lead to an exciting conclusion on May 8.
San Jose hosted Game’s 1 and 2 of the playoff series. The Avalanche had a strong start to Game 1, earning a 2-1 lead early in the second period. The Sharks bounced back with four straight goals though, led by Brent Burns goal and three assists to win 5-2 at home. Colorado was led by their own defenseman in Game 2 though. Tyson Barrie had a goal and two assists, while Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon each collected a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win to even up the series at 1-1.
Game’s 3 and 4 shifted to Colorado for this series. Logan Couture had a hat trick, while Timo Meier picked up a goal and two assists. Martin Jones had 25 saves on 27 shots to help give the Sharks a 4-2 win on the road. Mikko Rantanen led the Avalanche in Game 4 with two points, but it was Philipp Grubauer who stole the show. Grubauer turned away all 32 shots he faced to give Colorado a 3-0 win at home.
The Sharks hosted Game 5 on May 4. Tyson Jost opened up the scoring for the Avalanche, but Tomas Hertl was able to score twice to keep the Sharks from the brink of elimination. Philipp Grubauer had 37 saves, but it was Martin Jones who helped San Jose earn the 2-1 victory with 21 saves on 22 shots to earn a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 went back to Colorado on May 6. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was able to score two goals for the Sharks, including the game-tying goal in the dying minutes to send it to overtime. J.T. Compher scored two goals and added an assist, while Gabriel Landeskog scored the game-winning goal in overtime to send this series to Game 7.
The Avalanche have not been able get their power play going so far in the playoffs. Colorado has been able to score on around 15.6 percent of their power play opportunities in this season’s playoffs. The Avalanche’s penalty kill has been slightly better though, stopping opposing teams around 82.1 percent of the time.
San Jose had a really strong balance on special teams in the regular season, but have not been able to repeat that success in the playoffs. The Sharks have capitalized on around 19.6 percent of their power play chances, while killing off only around 79.6 percent of the power plays against them. San Jose will need special teams to step up if they want to move on.
These two teams balance out pretty well on special teams, with the Sharks having a better power play against Colorado’s solid penalty kill. The Avalanche’s struggling power play will go up against San Jose’s weaker penalty kill. If either team could put up a power play goal or two, it could be the difference maker in Game 7.
Philipp Grubauer went on a tear to end the season to help Colorado reach the playoffs. Grubauer finished out the regular season with a save percentage of .917 and a 2.64 GAA. He has carried that into the playoffs, putting up a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 2.23. Grubauer will look to put up a huge performance to give his team the edge.
Martin Jones had a season to forget during the regular season, finishing with a .896 save percentage and a 2.94 GAA. Jones struggled through the first few games against the Vegas Golden Knights, but has since found his stride. Through the playoffs so far, Jones has a save percentage of .908 and a GAA of 2.78. He will look to put up another strong Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Grubauer has put up the better numbers in the postseason, but Jones has been playing better then his stats would suggest recently. If Jones can do what he did against the Golden Knights in their last Game 7, it will be very tough for the Avalanche to solve him. This will be Grubauer first-ever Game 7 and it will be in a tough, hostile environment.
Both teams have looked like the better team at times throughout this series, but it all comes down to who the better team is on Wednesday night. The Sharks will look to take advantage with their slight edge on special teams, while Colorado will look for their top line to break out and steal this game on the road.
BetOnline has San Jose listed as a -132 against the money line. I believe that the Sharks should be the favored team in this game and there is not much value there. I believe that San Jose will come out and look for their defense to calm down the game, which could lead to a slower pace. This gives a lot of value to the under in my opinion, which is listed at 5.5.