Sharks vs. Avalanche: Back-to-back back-to-backs

USA TODAY Sports

San Jose's second back-to-back sequence in less than a week finds them in Denver for a 5PM puck drop.

After turning in what was arguably their worst performance of the season on the second night of a back-to-back earlier this week in Calgary, the Sharks are playing on consecutive days once again, taking the ice in Denver tonight against the Avalanche a little over 24 hours after their 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis at home.

It's all part of the busiest month of the Sharks' schedule with the team slated to play 15 games in 31 days of lousy Smarch weather. To state the obvious, their performance over the next three weeks could make or break their season and determine how Doug Wilson approaches the April 3rd trade deadline.

On the bright side, the Sharks have defeated the Avalanche twice in two meetings so far this year. On the not-so-bright side, this is a decidedly different Avs team than they've seen in 2013. Ryan O'Reilly's lengthy holdout came to an end days after San Jose beat Colorado in a shootout two weeks ago and his addition powered the Avs to an incredible 6-2 victory over the as-of-then-undefeated-in-regulation Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. O'Reilly only has 3 points in 4 games so far but his impact on the team's woeful territorial play has been decidedly immense: over the past three games, Colorado has earned 41 shot attempts to their opponents' 30 with O'Reilly on the ice at even-strength. With him on the bench, they've been outshot 208-161. And this is with O'Reilly starting more shifts in his own end than the offensive zone and skating with guys named John Mitchell and Aaron Palushaj. If he keeps playing like this, a $5 million cap hit will seem like a steal.

Colorado Avalanche

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San Jose Sharks
9-10-4, 22 points
11-7-5, 27 points
13th in Western Conference 7th in Western Conference

5PM PST | Pepsi Center | Denver, Colorado
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: 98.5 KFOX, SJSharks.com
Know Your Enemy:
Mile High Hockey, Jibblescribbits

Projected Sharks Lineup

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Tommy Wingels
Tim Kennedy - Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski
James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Ryane Clowe
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Adam Burish

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Douglas Murray - Brad Stuart

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Avalanche Lineup

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Jamie McGinn - Matt Duchene - P.A. Parenteau
John Mitchell - Ryan O'Reilly - Aaron Palushaj
Cody McLeod - Patrick Bordeleau - Chuck Kobasew

Greg Zanon - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Shane O'Brien
Matt Hunwick - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov
J-S Giguere

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