Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword
 
2014 NHL Draft
SHARE
At the Rink blog

Avalanche aim to clinch first playoff spot since 2010

Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Share with your Friends


2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Avalanche aim to clinch first playoff spot since 2010

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can clinch their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2009-10 with at least a point Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche (46-21-6) are third in the Central Division, one point behind the second-place Chicago Blackhawks (42-18-5). Colorado has two games in hand on Chicago and is hoping to gain home ice advantage in a first-round series that would likely pit them against the defending-champion Blackhawks.

Colorado could also clinch a postseason berth if the Dallas Stars lose to the St. Louis Blues or the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the Minnesota Wild.

Center John Mitchell will return to the Avalanche lineup after missing four games with a back injury he sustained after crashing into the boards in a March 18 game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"A significant amount of pain is gone," Mitchell said. "My whole back was just bruised right down the middle. It was tough just getting in and out of bed, in and out of a car. Any little pressure on my spine, on my back, was pretty sore. It's good that I can roll in and out of bed, get in and out of my car and not have any pain."

San Jose (47-19-9) is in danger of losing its hold on first place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks, who have gone 2-2-2 in their past six games, lead the Anaheim Ducks (47-18-8) by one point and have played two more games.

The Sharks have clinched a playoff position but their goal is to win the division and open the postseason against one of the two Western Conference wild-card teams.

Forward Raffi Torres still has soreness in his knee after undergoing surgery and didn't make the trip to Denver.

The teams didn't skate Saturday morning because of the 3 pm ET faceoff.

Here are the projected lineups for the Sharks and Avalanche:

SHARKS

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tommy Wingels - James Sheppard - Marty Havlat

Tyler Kennedy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Scott Hannan

Injured: Adam Burish (hand), Tomas Hertl (knee), Raffi Torres (knee)

AVALANCHE

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Nathan MacKinnon

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Jamie McGinn

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Brad Malone - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda -- Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit -- Cory Sarich/Nate Guenin

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Reto Berra, Paul Carey, Guenin or Sarich, Ryan Wilson

Injured: PA Parenteau (knee), Alex Tanguay (hip surgery)

Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis