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Matthias Making Avalanche Debut Tonight

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Newly acquired Colorado Avalanche forward Shawn Matthias' parents are in for quite a surprise when they return from holiday in Jamaica.

Matthias was traded to the Avs on Sunday morning, and they haven't heard the news yet.

"My parents are actually away on a trip, so they don't even know I've been traded yet," the 6-foot-4, 231-pound player said after his first morning skate with his new club. "They have no idea. It should be pretty funny when they get back on the weekend."

Matthias admitted the trade from Toronto took him by surprise, but the irony was he had just mentioned how confident he was that he wouldn't be moved ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

"I was at breakfast with a couple of my friends, we had the day off, and I got the phone call. It was funny, like 10 minutes before that I was talking about how I didn't think I was going to get traded," he said Wednesday morning. "It kind of caught me off guard, but I was really excited when I heard the trade. I don't really know too much about Colorado. I just know [Denver is] a cool city. I was very excited to come here and check it out.

"There's a lot of skill on this team, a lot of youth, some great hockey players here. I was really excited. I was really happy about the news."

Getting to Denver in time for Tuesday's practice was his goal, but Matthias was delayed by immigration paperwork and red tape. That means he's had little time to prepare for tonight's matchup against the San Jose Sharks.

"It took a little while to get the visa. I finally got it yesterday at 4 o'clock and was on a plane at 8:40. It was good to finally get that so I could come down," said Matthias. "It sucked waiting around, not skating for a couple days, but there's nothing I could really do about that. I just had to wait."

According to Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, Matthias will take the ice this evening alongside center Carl Soderberg and right wing Blake Comeau, one of the more consistent combos for Colorado so far this season.

"I think for me and Carl, getting to play with Shawn is exciting. I've played against him for a while, I know what kind of game he plays," Comeau said. "I think he's going to complement us really well. He's a big body, plays a power-style game, and he's responsible defensively as well. Whether Patty wants to use us as a checking line, we're also a line that I think will be able to contribute some goals as well."

Soderberg (11 goals, 30 assists) and Comeau (nine goals, 19 assists) have combined for 69 points (20 goals, 49 assists) this season, skating together for the majority of games. The chemistry between the two has proven fruitful, both at even strength and on the penalty kill. Soderberg is even tied with Tyson Barrie for the team lead in assists (30), two shy of his career high set with the Boston Bruins in 2013-14.

"It's been nice. Since Patty put me and Carl together, I feel like we've clicked really well," said Comeau. "He's an easy guy to play with; he does a lot of small things really well, which makes playing on his line easy. We're excited to get Shawn in on our line, and I'm sure we'll have some good chemistry right away with the way that he plays."

Roy said he thinks the trio will be good against the opposing club's upper pairings.

"I'm curious to see how he's going to fit in with Comeau and Soderberg," Roy said. "I feel that they're capable of playing against top lines, and I really like the balance of our lineup."

While there may be some added pressure for Matthias to familiarize himself with his new teammates and the systems deployed, it won't be coming from Roy.

"I want him to work hard and have fun, enjoy the ride," Roy said. "I think he's going to be a good compliment to the line of Soderberg and Comeau. I think he's going to be able to play against good lines. I think he could bring some offense as well.

"I think he's a good addition for us."

Matthias, although unfamiliar with his offensive partners, is excited to get back to work.

"I've played against them a few times, they're good hockey players," he said. "This team, just from being out there, you can see the skill level. It's going to be fun. I'm excited for this opportunity. I just want to play my game, compete every night and bring some energy and try and help the team get into the playoffs and have a good push here.

"It's a good challenge here. The team's trying to get into the playoffs, and it's going to be a good couple of exciting months here."

He will wear No. 18 with the Avs, a designation he's familiar with and received by chance.

"I didn't ask for it, I just got it. I was actually pretty pumped, that's my favorite number," he said. "The last two teams I was on, they were occupied, so I couldn't wear them. But I wore it in Florida for a lot of years. It looks good. I like it."

Netminder Calvin Pickard will start in goal against San Jose, giving Semyon Varlamov additional time to recover from a flu-like illness that kept him out of Tuesday's practice. Center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup after sitting out sick as well.

"I think I could have used [Varlamov] if I had to, but there's no urgency. Picks has been playing really well. [Varlamov is] going to play Saturday for the outdoor game," Roy said. "I think Nate and Varly are looking good.

"I guess it's easier for a forward to jump in the lineup maybe than a goalie, but at the same time we're OK with what's going on."

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