The NHL has an exciting night of action on Wednesday night, with a total of six games on the board. The new year has just started, but the NHL playoff race is picking up. One of the games will be between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams are both vying for playoff spots, which should lead to an exciting matchup. The game will be on at 9:30 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
San Jose has started out the season with a record of 21-13-7, which has them in third place of the Pacific Division. The Sharks are coming off a tough loss to the Calgary Flames, in which they allowed eight goals. That loss ended a two-game winning streak. San Jose will look to bounce back with a win against Colorado in Wednesday night’s matchup.
The Avalanche have gone 19-13-8 at the beginning of this season. Colorado is currently sitting in third place of the Central Division. The Avalanche have hit a big of a rough patch, losing five games in a row. The last two losses have been in overtime and four of those losses have been by one goal. Colorado has kept most of the games close and they will look to finally pull off a victory against the Sharks.
Wednesday night’s matchup will be between the Sharks and the Avalanche will be the first game of the season series. San Jose and Colorado will meet two more times on March 1 and at the end of the season on April 6. I expect these two teams to try and jump out to a fast start to try and earn the first win in the season series.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Sharks and the Avalanche met up three times last season. The first matchup of the season series was hosted by Colorado. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had a goal and an assist for the Sharks. Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and added an assist, while Mikko Rantanen scored a goal and two assists for the Avalanche. Jonathan Bernier stopped 45 of 48 shots to help give Colorado a 5-3 win.
The second game of the season series stayed in Colorado. Joel Ward scored the lone goal for the Sharks, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic had another assist. J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche. Jonathan Bernier had another good night. He had 38 saves on 39 shots to help give Colorado a 3-1 win at home.
The third and final matchup of the season series shifted to San Jose. Blake Comeau and Mikko Rantanen each scored for the Avalanche, but it was not enough. Logan Couture helped lead the Sharks to victory with a goal and an assist. Three other players were able to score for San Jose. Martin Jones had 23 saves to help lead the Sharks to victory.
The Avalanche were able to take the season series 2-1 last season. Both teams were able to earn playoff spots last season. These two teams played close games and I expect that to continue on Wednesday night. Colorado took both games at home last season and will look to take their lone home game this season on Wednesday night.
San Jose’s special teams have been off to a fast start this season. The Sharks power play has been able to convert on 23.6 percent of their opportunities. San Jose’s penalty kill has been just as strong, killing off 83.9 percent of their power play opportunities against them. The Sharks will look for their strong two-way play on special teams to help lead them to a win on the road.
The Avalanche have also been putting up solid performances on special teams. Colorado’s power play has been its strongest point, scoring on 26.6 percent of their opportunities. The Avalanche have not been quite as good on the penalty kill. Colorado has stopped the opposing team’s 77.6 percent of the time, which is below the league average.
The Sharks have a better balance on special teams, but I believe they could run into some trouble against Colorado’s power play. The Avalanche’s top power play line has been wreaking havoc over the NHL this season and they will look to do it again over San Jose.
I believe Martin Jones will get the nod in net for San Jose. Jones has jumped out to a 16-8-4 record in his 28 games played this season. He has posted a save percentage of .898 and a 2.87 GAA this season. Jones has put up a strong record, but his numbers could improve. He will look to put up a solid performance against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Philipp Grubauer will likely get the start for the Avalanche on Wednesday night. Grubauer has a .904 save percentage and a GAA of 3.09 this season. He has gone 8-4-3 in his 15 starts this season. Grubauer has put up a better save percentage this season, which he will look to help lead Colorado over the Sharks on Wednesday night.
for their power play to help lead them to a win at home over the Sharks. Colorado’s goaltender, Philipp Grubauer has also put up slightly better numbers, which could help the Avalanche. With this game being in Colorado, I believe that Avalanche will pull off a win on Wednesday night.
BetOnline has San Jose listed as a -106 against the money line on Wednesday night. This gives the Sharks a very slight edge over the Avalanche. While Colorado has struggled recently, I believe that they should be favored at home. This gives a lot of value to the Avalanche. I am taking Colorado as slight underdogs.