The Colorado Avalanche return to playoff action for the first time in two years when they face the San Jose Sharks in first-round action.
The series is best-of-seven, with the first two games in San Jose. Game one is Wednesday, game two is Friday. Game time is 8:30 MDT for each.
The series moves to the Pepsi Center for the next two games. Game three will be Sunday at 7:30 MDT, game four will be Tuesday, April 20th at 8PM MDT.
On paper this is a mismatch. With 113 points the Sharks were the top team in the Western Conference and second overall in the NHL. The Avs finished with 95 points, good for eighth in the Western Conference and twelfth overall.
The four game season series between the teams was split, with the home team winning each game.
In NHL play since the Olympic break, the Sharks are 11-7-2, enough to edge out the Chicago Blackhawks for the best record in the Western Conference by one point.
During that same span the Avs record is 8-10-3.
When post-Olympic play began, the Avs were fighting the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead. Colorado was two points behind the Canucks when they hosted them on March 9th. In that game the Avs twice blew three goal leads and lost 6-4. Colorado struggled for the rest of the season and finished eight points behind the Canucks.
Perhaps the best factor in the Avs favor is the Sharks shaky playoff record since the lockout of 2004-05. They were eliminated in the first round last season after winning the President's Trophy for best regular season record in the NHL.
They were ousted in the second round in 2008, 2007, and 2006.\
Simply, if the Avs can return to the form they showed in the first part of the season, they could give the Sharks a challenge.. If they continue their play of the last month, this series could end in four games.