San Jose Sharks v Colorado Avalanche

For the record, my official prediction is that San Jose will win this series.  The hockey analyst in me says that the Avs weak defense and their inability to hold onto 3rd period leads is just too much to overcome in order to hang in a 7 game series with any playoff team in the Western Conference, let alone the #1 seeded San Jose Sharks.  The Avalanche’s goal all season long was to make the playoffs and they’ve done that - and they seem to be satisfied with that result.  They will compete hard with San Jose - at least for stretches, but San Jose will only need 5 games to beat Colorado, with the Avs only win coming in Game 3 (which I have tickets for).

All that being said - Here are the 5 things the Avs must do to beat the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Playoffs.

5. Win Game 1 or 2 in San Jose. The Avs can put a TON of doubt in the fragile playoff psyche of the Sharks with an early win in San Jose.  They will need that psychological edge to hang in there against the powerhouse Sharks.

4. Get a big series from Yip and / or Stewart. Both of these players had 5 games stretches during the regular season where they were clearly the best Avalanche player.  Both have also had 5 games stretches were they as invisible as Joe Thornton in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Real production from one or both of these guys will go a long way to help the Avs keep pace with San Jose‘s goalscoring.

3. Contain San Jose’s top line. If the Avs allow the Thornton / Heatley / Marleau line to control multiple games, and they will simply have no shot.

2. Have “Special” Special Teams.  For obvious reasons, big penalty kills and timely PP goals can swing playoffs games and ultimately, series.

1. Andy. Rarely do goaltenders play the same sort of game in the playoffs that they did in the regular season - they either get better or get worse.  This is Anderson’s first playoff series - how will he react to the pressure?  Plain and simple, Craig Anderson will have to outplay Evegini Nabokov by a sizeable margin and “steal” at least 1 game for the Colorado Avalanche to win this series.

Recent San Jose Playoff Disappointments:
  • 2009 - Lost in first round against Anaheim in 6 games.
  • 2008 - Lost in second round against Dallas in 6 games.
  • 2007 - Lost in second round against Detroit in 6 games.
  • 2006 - Lost in second round against Edmonton in 6 games.
Recent Colorado First Round Success:
  • 2008 - Beat Minnesota in 6 games.
  • 2006 - Beat Dallas in 5 games.
  • 2004 - Beat Dallas in 5 games.
My other playoff series predictions:
  • CHI / NSH - Chicago in 5.
  • VAN / LA - LA in 7.
  • PHX / DET - Detroit in 6.
  • WSH / MTL - Washington in 4.
  • NJ / PHI - New Jersey in 6.
  • BUF / BOS - Buffalo in 7.
  • PIT / OTT - Pittsburgh in 5.