Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan is like everyone else when it comes to the playoffs, he is simply glad his club is playing well and that he now has a team to focus on. Thanks to an overtime goal from former Shark Brad Stuart against Chicago, San Jose was locked into the top seed and into a matchup with Colorado.
As for the top seed, McLellan noted it really doesn’t mean a lot outside of being one of 16 teams invited to the postseason party.
“All that means is we get to hang another banner,” said McLellan. “Otherwise we have to play a very good team.”
The Sharks were 2-1-1 against the Avalanche during the 2009-10 season and the four games seemed to come almost a season apart. Colorado won the season opener 5-2 in a bashing at the Pepsi Center. After that, the Sharks managed at least a point in every game against the Avs. San Jose won 3-1 to close out November and then the clubs had some distance from each other.
San Jose and Colorado did not meet again until March 28 when San Jose took a 4-3 victory at HP Pavilion and then the final game was a Colorado 5-4 overtime victory on April 4.
“We’ll have our hands full,” said McLellan. “Colorado is young, energetic and enthusiastic hockey team. They have some veterans like Foote and Tucker to stabilize that energy. They will come out and play extremely hard. I’m sure they will use (the underdog role) as a rallying point.
Offensively the Avalanche is led by Paul Stastny, who compiled 79 points (20-50) in 81 games. Their leading goal scorer was Chris Stewart with 26, followed by rookie sensation Matt Duchene with 24 and stalwart Milan Hejduk with 23.
In net, they are protected by Craig Anderson who went 28-25-7-7 and was strong all year to push Colorado to the postseason.
“This is his first opportunity as a number one and there’s been very little up down (play for Colorado),” said McLellan.
Former Sharks Scott Hannan and Tom Preissing are on the Avalanche roster.
San Jose will have to deal with the altitude in Colorado, but that is nothing new to NHL players.
“Our guys will only be tired if they think they are tired,” said McLellan, noting the club will have to be smart about their shift lengths. “It (can be) a big deal out of nothing.”
This will mark the fourth time San Jose and Colorado have met in the playoffs. Colorado won the first two meetings while being the higher seed and San Jose, as the higher seed, moved through Colorado in 2004 to advance to their only Western Conference Finals.
The NHL playoff schedule is expected to be announce later on Sunday.