Gameday Preview: Avs and Sharks seek double digits

Casey Ippolito
notsteveduchesne

Two Western Conference powerhouses are in action today, both looking for win No. 10. Five games in all to end the week and here’s what you need to know.

San Jose at Ottawa

Looking to bring their win total into double digits, the Sharks will visit Ottawa fresh off a shutout victory in Montreal Saturday night. They’ll once again be missing Dan Boyle and Brent Burns. Alex Stalock will start. The Sens haven’t played since Friday and will counter with Craig Anderson, so the game has upset potential. Ottawa will need to capitalize against a team which allows 23.1 shots per game and less than two goals per game.

Why this might be the best San Jose team of all time. (USA Today)

Sens will be in tough to solve the Sharks. (Yahoo)

Player to Watch: Six points in 10 games for Milan Michalek isn’t quite up to par for the former Shark, who was dealt to Ottawa in the 2009 Dany Heatley trade.

Tampa Bay at Florida

Last time these teams met, Tampa prevailed 7-2. It’ll be a tough test for the Panthers, who are looking for their third win of the season and their first win playing the fifth game of a six game homestand. Steven Stamkos and Marty St-Louis are top-10 in league scoring and they both might be top-five after this one.

Lightning seek to cap off weekend with a win. (Raw Charge)

Panthers hope to strike down “Lightnings.” (CBS Miami)

Players to Watch: Eric Gudbranson and Dmitri Kulikov have two points between them and are a combined minus-11. They’re just 21 and 22, respectively, but the Panthers are counting on these two to develop and lead their blueline.

Anaheim at Columbus

The Ducks’ 8-3 start shows their success last year wasn’t an aberration, while the Jackets sit at .500. Columbus have lost four straight this year, but still sit fourth in the surprisingly weak Metropolitan Division. Anaheim can’t keep winning with their power play succeeding 6.8% of the time as it is currently. The Ducks took a major injury hit with the loss of Jakob Silfverberg, who’ll miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.

Jackets push for four in a row at home as Ducks come to town. (The Cannon)

Lineup changes for Ducks and Blue Jackets. (NHL)

Player to Watch: The sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Hampus Lindholm, has quickly graduated from the AHL before his 20th birthday, and leads the Ducks at plus-10.

Winnipeg at Colorado

These teams square off tonight for the first time as conference and division foes. Everything has gone Colorado’s way thus far, resulting in a 9-1 record and a mere 14 goals allowed. It was a good sign for the defensively porous Jets to pull off a Saturday victory while surrendering just one goal on the strength of a great performance from Ondrej Pavelec.

Jets continue road trip against Avalanche. (TSN)

Avalanche look to keep rolling as they host the Jets. (Mile High Hockey)

Player to Watch: Matt Duchene has been spectacular, leading the Avs with 12 points and three game-winning goals.

Edmonton at Los Angeles

The matchup doesn’t look good on paper for Edmonton, as Los Angeles scored seven goals in a victory against Phoenix on Thursday. The Kings did, however, blow a four-goal lead in that game, so it’s fair to say they haven’t hit their stride. Edmonton sits last in the West, and badly need to string some wins together to keep pace. Neither Devan Dubnyk or Jason LaBarbera have stopped even 88% of the shots they’ve faced.

Disheartened Oilers visit Kings. (CBC)

Drew Doughty shows leadership, fortitude. (LA Times)

Player to Watch: 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has seven points in his past four games for Edmonton. He’s reached the point-per-game plateau and should stay at that level as he rises to expected superstardom.