The 8th seeded Avs get the pleasure of taking on the top seeded team in the West, San Jose Sharks. Just about all of the experts are expecting the Sharks to dispose of the Avs rather quickly. You'd think they would've learned their lessons after the Avs were supposed to finish 30th in the league. Cant blame them though, as the Avs didn't do too much down the stretch to make anyone think they would be worthy of being in the playoffs at all.
While the Sharks are the favorite to win the series, they shouldn't take the Avs lightly (see Opening Night). The Avs are a faster team than the Sharks so that is a huge advantage for the Avs. While most of the guys on the team are making their post season debuts, the veteran guys (Foote, Yelle, Hejduk, and Hannan) bring a lot of playoff experience to the table including 5 Stanley Cups between them.
The keys for the Avs to make some noise in this series, will be special teams and the play of Craig Anderson. The Sharks ranked in the top 10 in both penalty kill and power play. The Avs will have to stay disciplined and find a way to score on the power play without Peter Mueller. Andy hasn't been as sharp as he was earlier in the season so he will have to elevate his game in his playoff debut. Hopefully the D will be able to give him a little help.
On the injury front, almost everyone is healthy finally. Rookie Matt Duchene will be back in the lineup tonight after sitting out the last game of the season with a torso injury. David Jones has been skating with the team for a few weeks now and is just about ready to go. He is traveling with the team for games 1 and 2 and could possibly get a jersey in game 2. Peter Mueller, who sustained a concussion against these Sharks, will not join the team in San Jose and is questionable for game 3 also. Hopefully he'll be back at some point in the series.