Sharks Face Avalanche, Look to Stay Undefeated: Game Preview


Mar 26, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) skates with the puck past Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly (37) during the third period at HP Pavilion. San Jose defeated Colorado 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

After a third period comeback on Thursday night in their home opener the San Jose Sharks (3-0-0) play the first game of a back-to-back in a Saturday matinee against the Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0).

The Avalanche are coming off of back-to-back wins themselves and are now heading on a 4-game road trip with San Jose being stop number one.

San Jose’s top line was once again featured in their third straight win to start the season and is off to an incredible start.  Joe Thornton is tied with Buffalo’s Tomas Vanek for most points with 9 even though Jumbo Joe has played one less game.  He also leads the league in assists with 8 and  Joe Pavelski is right behind him at 7.  Their linemate and benefactor from all those assists Patrick Marleau leads the NHL in goals with 6 and has 8 points on the season.

As a line, the Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski trio has amassed 24 points in 3 games.  That ‘window’ still looks wide open to me!

While Scott Gomez did not start in the home opener, it is reported on that head coach Todd McClellan expects to see Gomez play this afternoon. Apparently Michal Handzus will stay on the third line and Scott will instead replace Andrew Dejardins on the 4th line.  This does not seem like a bad move at first to get him back into the thick of things, but hopefully Gomez moves up because Handzus has not been playing very well either.

For the Avalanche Matt Duchene leads the team this season with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) and Milan Hejduk leads the team in assists with 3.  Also, the youngest captain the in the league Gabriel Landeskog has started off the season with just one goal.  While they do not have the offensive firepower the Sharks have,  Colorado has allowed just one goal in their last two games (including a shutout against the Blue Jackets) so goals could be at a premium this afternoon.

What to Watch For

So far this season San Jose has been relying on one big period to get the wins.  They scored 4 goals in the third period against Phoenix, a 6-goal first period at Edmonton and 3 in the second period against the Flames in the season opener.

Obviously, it’s nice to have that offensive explosiveness.  The problem is those periods came at the expense of other moments in those games when the Sharks were simply outplayed.   I want to see a if the Sharks can put together a more complete 60 minutes rather than relying on one great period and then taking the rest of the game off (like in Edmonton).