On Friday night, the high-flying Colorado Avalanche (43-13-6, 1st Central) visit the San Jose Sharks (26-25-8, 7th Pacific). The Avs have outperformed the Sharks this season in virtually every team stat, which is not surprising when you look at their respective records. Colorado won the only previous meeting between the two squads by a 6-2 score back in November.
The Avalanche boast a power play that’s 8th best in the league (24.1%), while the Sharks (87.0%) have the second-best penalty killing percentage overall. Which team wins the special teams battle (or continues with their season trend) could go a long way in deciding the outcome of the contest.
Injuries Mounting for Both Teams
The Avs will be without Captain Gabriel Landeskog and defensemen Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram. San Jose will be without d-men Mario Ferraro, Nikolai Knyzhov, and Radim Simek, while goaltender Adin Hill and winger Kevin Labanc also remain out of their lineup.
With the injuries to the Avalanche, one might think the Sharks have a chance in this one, but the Avalanche are playing well this season and have assembled a group with an extensive amount of depth (not to mention, the newly acquired Josh Manson, brought over in a pre-trade deadline day move) which should come away with the victory despite their missing roster pieces.
Colorado’s leading scorer Nazem Kadri (73 points, six game-winning goals) and Nate MacKinnon lead the way for the Avs, and will likely play plenty of shifts versus Brent Burns, the Sharks TOI leader. The Sharks counter with Timo Meier (58 points, seven game-winning goals) and the recently-extended Tomas Hertl (8 years, 8.1375 AAV) who will no doubt face the Avs top TOI man, Devon Toews.
In goal, two veteran netminders are likely to get the call, with the Avalanche expected to start Darcy Kuemper (29-8-2, 2.41 GAA, .923 SV%) and the Sharks countering with James Reimer(15-12-6, 2.85 GAA, .916 SV%). Again, Colorado has the edge here.
On to the Pick
You would have to think the Avalanche will win this one, and the oddsmakers agree with Colorado (-240) being the betting favorite in this one, which makes the Sharks ( +200) the clear-cut underdog in the contest. Colorado comes in on a mini two-game winning streak, and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 matches.
The Sharks meanwhile, are 4-3-3 in their last 10, and are playing the back half of a back-to-back, following Thursday’s contest against cross-state rivals the Los Angeles Kings which L.A. won 3-0. In the last 11 contests between the two clubs, the Avs sport a 9-2 record, while the Sharks are just 2-8-1.
Take the Avalanche to win, and consider the puck line (-1.5) as the value play here.
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