The San Jose Sharks welcome the Colorado Avalanche to a rain-soaked SAP Center in a battle of teams headed in polar opposite directions. The Sharks are in the thick of the race for the Pacific Division and on a three-game winning streak. The Avalanche are last in the NHL and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. They have just eight regulation victories on the season, the last of which came on Dec. 11 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Avalanche Season In A Slide
A miserable year for Colorado seems to have no bottom. A coaching change just before the season, a porous defense and swirling trade rumors around top-six forwards Matt Duchesne and Gabriel Landeskog have not mixed with the spotty goaltending of Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard. The duo combines for a league-worst 3.35 goals allowed per game.
Spencer Martin will make his NHL debut in a start tonight against the Sharks. Martin is having a fine American Hockey League rookie season with the San Antonio Rampage and has a career AHL record of 22-16-3-4 with four of his wins coming via shutout. His .917 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average have been solid but not spectacular. Adding to the troubles, Tyson Barrie will be a game-time decision on an already thin blue line.
One positive note is the homecoming of Long Beach, California, native Matt Nieto. The Sharks’ second round pick in 2011 returns to the start of his NHL career after Colorado claimed him off waivers on Jan. 5. Nieto has one goal and one assist in five games for the Avalanche.
Sharks Looking for Fourth Straight Win
The Sharks are coming off a hard-fought pair of points against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the back of excellent goaltending by Aaron Dell. The Sharks currently own a three-game winning streak and face a goaltender, 21-year-old Spencer Martin, making his NHL debut — not something that head coach Peter DeBoer wasted a lot of time on. However, DeBoer pointed to his own team’s mental game before the showdown with the lowly Avalanche.
“Our approach doesn’t change at all. We don’t want to make it easy on [Martin]. We want to fire pucks and get traffic and get a lot of traffic around the net,” said DeBoer. “For me, this is more a mindset game. We’ve been playing some very solid hockey the last few games against some tough opponents and we have to bring that mindset in here again tonight.”
The Sharks will again be without Timo Meier while he recovers from an upper-body injury sustained in the Los Angeles Kings game.
Ryan Carpenter draws into the lineup on the fourth line that has contributed goals in back-to-back games as the secondary scoring begins to show life with just four games left until the All-Star break.
“It was nice to get back-to-back games in. You feel like you’re getting into a rhythm and getting more comfortable. But it was nice to be able to contribute and get a goal,” Carpenter said of his recent call-up to the Sharks. “However I can contribute, if it’s scoring, just being hard to play against, drawing penalties, or being good on faceoffs, I’m going to try to do the same thing again tonight”
Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels: CSN-CA, ALT2
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
First Game of the Season Series
San Jose Sharks – 28-16-2 (58 Points)
Home Record: 16-6-1
Hot Players: Brent Burns
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl, Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Tommy Wingels – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Colorado Avalanche – 13-29-1 (27 Points)
Road Record: 8-13-0
Hot Players: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene
Key Injuries: Erik Johnson
Mikko Rantanen – Nathan MacKinnon – Rene Bourque
Gabriel Landeskog – Matt Duchene – Matthew Nieto
Blake Comeau – Carl Soderberg – Jarome Iginla
Joe Colborne – John Mitchell – Mikhail Grigorenko
Fedor Tyutin – Tyson Barrie
Cody Goloubef – Nikita Zadorov
Francois Beauchemin – Eric Gelinas
1)The Avalanche do have a single brightspot in the 2016-17 campaign: Colorado is second in the NHL in the faceoff dot, winning 53.3% of their draws.
2)Brent Burns torrid season continues. Since the calendar flipped over to 2017, the Sharks defender posted four goals and eight assists in nine game. Burns leads the Sharks in goals (19), assists, (28) and a plus-16 rating in 46 games played.
3)The Sharks recalled Tim Heed and Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Barracuda. Both skated for the ‘Cuda last night against the San Diego Gulls and are unlikely to draw into the lineup.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) January 21, 2017
4)Both Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier described their current injuries as “day to day” but neither player will be available tonight against the Avalanche barring an injury during warm-ups.
5)The Sharks are 39-38-5-6 all-time against the Quebec/Colorado franchise.