The NHL is set up with another two games on the board for Thursday night. One of the games will be between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams have battled it out in a tight series and I expect that to continue on April 2. This Game 4 will be a big one as the Sharks try and earn a 3-1 series lead, while the Avalanche try to tie it up at 2-2. This game is set to start at around 10:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
San Jose finished out the regular season with a record of 46-27-9, which put them in second place of the Pacific Division. The Sharks met up with the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round and it took a tough seven-game series to knock them off. San Jose struggled a bit to end the season, but have bounced back and looked good throughout the playoffs. The Sharks will look to keep that going with a big road victory on Thursday night.
The Avalanche had a very up and down season throughout this season, but were able to finish out in the last playoff spot with a record of 38-30-14. Colorado went on a nice streak of winning eight of their last eleven games to end the regular season to help them grab that final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche pulled off an impressive five-game upset against the Calgary Flames. Colorado will look to even this series up with a win at home.
Thursday night’s matchup between these two teams should be a good one as both teams have really started to pick up their play as this series has gone along. Game 3 was pretty intense, with both teams constantly battling for the edge. San Jose took the regular season series against the Avalanche 3-0 and they will look to continue their dominance with a win on the road.
Game 1 between the Sharks and the Avalanche was held on April 26. Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson each scored for Colorado, but it was not enough. Brent Burns had a goal and three assists, while Marcus Sorenson added two assists. Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist to help give the Sharks the Game 1 win. Martin Jones stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced to lead San Jose to a 5-2 win at home.
San Jose also hosted Game 2 of this series on April 28. Brent Burns had another really strong night, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Evander Kane scored and had an assist, while Tomas Hertl had another two assist performance. Tyson Barrie had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, while Matt Calvert had two assists. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist. Philipp Grubauer had 31 saves on 34 shots to give Colorado a 4-3 win to even up the series.
Game 3 was held on April 30 and it shifted to Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal, while Matthew Nieto was also able to find the back of the net. Logan Couture had a hat trick, while Timo Meier had a goal and two assists. Gustav Nyquist had two assists and Martin Jones turned away 25 of 27 shots to give the Sharks a 4-2 win.
These two teams have been relatively close in each game, with an empty netter being scoring in Game 1 and Game 3. I expect these two teams to play a competitive matchup again on Thursday night. Both teams have looked good throughout the series and I believe that they both have a good chance to keep it up.
San Jose finished out the regular season with a solid special teams’ performance. The Sharks were able to score on 23.7 percent of their power play chances, while stopping their opponents to an 80.8 percent success rate. In the playoffs, San Jose has been able to score on around 21.4 percent of their chances, while stopping opposing teams only 76.3 percent of the time.
The Avalanche’s power play was able to capitalize on around 22 percent of their opportunities during the regular season. In the playoffs though, Colorado has only been able to score on around 17.6 percent of their man advantages. The Avalanche killed off 78.7 percent of the power plays against that in the regular season, but have raised that to an 80 percent in the postseason.
These teams match up nicely on special teams, but I would give a slight advantage to the Sharks. San Jose’s special teams were better in the regular season and their power play has been better in the playoffs. Both teams could use a boost on penalty killing though.
Martin Jones had a good number of struggles throughout the regular season. Jones finished the regular season with a .896 save percentage and a GAA of 2.94. Jones struggled in the first four games against Vegas, but has since picked it up. He has a save percentage of .908 and a 2.92 GAA throughout the playoffs to this point.
Philipp Grubauer really picked up his play towards the end of the season for the Avalanche. Grubauer had a .917 save percentage and a GAA of 2.64 in the regular season. In the playoffs, Grubauer has posted a save percentage of .921 and a GAA of 2.43. The Avalanche will need to give him some support on offense if they want to even up this series on Thursday night.
Both teams have looked pretty evenly matched throughout this series, with a slight edge going towards San Jose. I believe that the Sharks have really been playing like a whole new team since falling down 3-1 against the Golden Knights in the first round. San Jose has a slight edge on special teams, but with how Jones has been playing as of late, I believe these goalies are evenly matched.
BetOnline has Colorado listed as a -121 against the money line for Game 4. I believe that giving them the edge if fair since they are at home, but I believe that as this series goes along, the Sharks will continue to wear the Avalanche down with their depth. I believe that this gives a good edge to San Jose in this game, which makes them have quite a bit of value as underdogs.