Game Preview: Sharks vs Avalanche - Oct 7 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Game Preview: Sharks vs Avalanche - Oct 7

Arnott scores his second goal on Peter Budaj
(AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)
It's the only game on tonight and it's an early start at 7:00p.m. ET. If the sports networks want to have some hockey to talk about tonight, this better be a real barn burner.

It's got the makings of one as the Avalanche are coming off of a 4-0 tromping at the hands of the Nashville Predators and will be looking for redemption. It's also the first time Scott Hannan faces his former team after signing with the Avalanche this off-season. After playing 8 seasons with the Sharks, this game has an obvious sentimental impact for Hannan and he's gunning for a big win.

Jose Theodore, coming off a 3-2 loss with the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday, was set to rejoin the roster today. There has been no word yet on whether the plans have changed it's unlikely. All signs point to Theodore backing up Budaj for the game today as I don't see them thrusting him into a start so soon. Ok, I could see it happening but I don't think it should.

UPDATE: Dater reports that Budaj is definitely getting the start. Missed it during my morning readings.

Joel Quenneville has shaken up the lines a bit for this game. Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk have moved down to a line with Paul Stastny, while Jaroslav Hlinka and Andrew Brunette find themselves on the top line with Joe Sakic. Tyler Arnason will center Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos on the third line while Wyatt Smith will sit in between Ian Laperriere and Ben Guite on the fourth line.

The second line mirrors what many people expected after hearing of the Smyth signing. It was believed that Wolski would stay on the first line with Brunette and Sakic but Jaroslav Hlinka should slot in quite nicely. The third line will be the one that worries people the most as it appears to lack any semblance of defensive responsibility. Personally, I'm not concerned about the third line and am expecting a big game from them.

Overall, the Avalanche are looking terrible from a statistics perspective. Their powerplay has been anemic (0%, tied for last in the league), their penalty kill has been atrocious (54%, 29th in the league) and Budaj has been shaky (4.04GAA, .875%). And we mustn't forget faceoffs (43.3%, 27th in the league). All of those stats are in serious need of improvement and I have faith that the Avalanche will put in a solid showing tonight.

But will a solid showing be enough to get past the offensive trio of Thornton, Marleau and Cheechoo and the goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov?

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