The Colorado Avalanche struggled out of the gate with losses in 5 of 6 and are just 3-6-1 through 10 games. Can they get their season on the right track with a win over the San Jose?
After splitting its first four games, Colorado has dropped five of its last six games –including two of three on their recent road trip. The Avalanche have to be concerned with some tough losses in winnable games against opponents like Columbus and Carolina, and now they return home looking for a spark.
Meanwhile, the Sharks are in a similar position after they dropped five of six games following four straight wins to open the season. San Jose was forced to travel after a date with the Dallas Stars on Saturday night and now find themselves in a back-to-back situation to compound their problems.
Projected Starting Goalies
Semyon Varlamov looked good in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday but wasn’t nearly as sharp in Colorado’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes the following night and the Avalanche haven’t confirmed he will get the start on Sunday ahead of Reto Berra. Varlamov is 2-4-0 with a 3.36 GAA and .889 save percentage while Berra is 1-2-0 with a 1.79 GAA and .944 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Martin Jones has been good for the Sharks with a 5-3-0 record as well as a 1.74 GAA and .938 save percentage. He will likely be back between the pipes on Sunday after Alex Stalock took the loss on Saturday. Goaltending has been an issue for San Jose over the past couple of years but they may have finally found a long-term answer in Jones.
Two years removed from a playoff appearance, the Avalanche remain a team in search of an identity as they rank in the bottom half of the league in goals per game and goals allowed per game despite some considerable talent at both ends of the ice. Nate Mackinnon has led the way with 10 points in as many games but players like Matt Duchene haven’t been nearly good enough up front while Varlamov has been criticized for his inconsistent play between the pipes. Meanwhile, the Sharks have also cooled off following a strong start to the year and remain a team in transition. San Jose isn’t the deepest team up front so losing Logan Couture to injury is a big hit and it will be on Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward to all step up while he is out. The Sharks also need Jones to be the real deal in net and the early numbers support the theory that he is good enough to be their long-term answer in goal. Look for San Jose to bounce back with a big win on Saturday night while the rumors surrounding Patrick Roy’s job security begin to heat up as the Avalanche.
However, our best choice for the NHL Odds here is the under. With Jones in net this season, Sharks games have averaged 4.4 goals per game. He should be back in net on Sunday, so go under with your NHL Picks.
NHL Pick: Under 5 (-140) at The Greek