Avalanche return home to face struggling Sharks
Thursday, 10.21.2010 / 7:00 PM
Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing EditorSHARKS (1-2-1) at AVALANCHE (4-2-0)
TV -- CSN-CA (HD), ALT (HD)
Season series --
This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The teams split four games last season, with each team winning twice in its building -- most recently April 4, when John-Michael Liles' overtime goal gave the Avalanche a 5-4 victory at Pepsi Center. San Jose later took a first-round playoff series from Colorado in six games.
Big Story --
The Avs return home after going 3-2-0 on their five-game road trip to play a struggling Sharks team that hasn't won since the season-opener in Stockholm and currently is 15th in the Western Conference.
Following Tuesday's 5-2 home loss to the Hurricanes, the Sharks were pointing the fingers at themselves for losing the game, and blaming turnovers for at least two of the Carolina goals.
"I thought every goal they scored was on our stick for a little bit and we just gave it up," Sharks captain Joe Thornton
told reporters. "It just went in the back of the net. You're not going to win games when you give the other team Grade 'A' chances when it's on your stick. It should be a firm play and away you go. We're making mental mistakes that shouldn't happen. Mistakes happen, but we've got to correct them now."
The first step, according to coach Todd McLellan, is for his veteran core to lead the way.
"There are always excuses of traveling to Europe and what not, but I don't buy into that," McLellan said. "We've been home for 10 days. (We've tried) to use the excuse we haven't played many games, (but) we just played two games in four nights. I think it comes from the individuals. It's the way they prepare and the type of game they want to play right now, and it's not the right formula."
Much is made of the Avalanche's youth, but coach Joe Sacco believes some of those young players are starting to mature.
In Monday's win against the New York Rangers, the Avs went up 3-1 and kept pressing, rather than take their collective skate off the gas pedal. They didn't score again, but Sacco was happy with how his team held onto the puck in the offensive zone rather than panic and make risky plays.
"I thought we could see some maturity in our game," Sacco told the Denver Post. "We didn't turn the puck over when it was 3-1. When we had the puck in their zone, we weren't throwing it out to the slot. To me, that's part of maturing as a young team. Those are good signs."
Who's Hot --
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau
scored his first 2 goals of the season in Monday's loss to the Hurricanes. … Liles leads all defensemen with 8 points -- all assists -- and has a point in all six of the Avalanche's games this season.
Injury Report --
Sharks forward Jamal Mayers is questionable with an arm injury. Defenseman Derek Joslin (upper body) is on injured reserve and has not played this season. … Avalanche forwards Peter Mueller
(concussion) and David Koci (broken jaw) are on injured reserve. Forward Brandon Yip
is questionable with a groin injury.
Stat Pack --
The Sharks can't blame their special-teams play for their 15th-place standing in the Western Conference. Their power play is fourth in the League at 26.1 percent, while their penalty killing is a respectable 16th (83.3 percent). The problem has been even-strength play, where they have just three goals in four games.
Puck Drop --
The Avalanche have been very happy with the play of rookie defenseman Jonas Holos
. The Norwegian-born 2008 sixth-round pick doesn't have a point in two games, but Sacco liked him enough that he played Holos and went with seven defensemen Monday at the Rangers.
Sacco said he thought the 23-year-old's poise and passing ability could help the power play.
"He's a right-handed shot, and he was able to get some pucks to the net," Sacco said. "I liked his energy out there and he made good decisions, but more than anything just his ability to bring the puck to the net with his right-handed shot."