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Sharks vs. Avalanche: Afternoon delight

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Sharks travel to Denver for the rare 12PM start, facing an Avalanche team that could clinch a playoff spot with a point.

Doug Pensinger

The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the most surprising stories of this season, starting the year on fire and remaining ensconced in the playoff picture throughout despite drafting first overall in 2013. They have the chance to do what was surely considered unthinkable prior to the campaign by clinching a playoff spot this afternoon in Denver should they pick up at least a point against the Sharks.

Coming off a disappointing loss to Winnipeg, San Jose has seven games remaining on their schedule, two fewer than the Anaheim Ducks team currently one point behind them for the top spot in the Pacific Division. According to sportsclubstats, even going 7-0 the rest of the way wouldn't guarantee the Sharks the division title; they're obviously reliant on Anaheim to start losing a few games here but the Ducks' largely cake schedule makes that a tough proposition to bet on.

Todd McLellan was coy when asked about who will start in net today after Antti Niemi gave up a particularly unsavory goal to Blake Wheeler in the loss to the Jets. Raffi Torres unsurprisingly didn't make the trip to Denver so expect the same lines we saw against Winnipeg on Thursday.

San Jose Sharks

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Colorado Avalanche
47-19-9, 103 points
46-21-6, 98 points
1st in Pacific
3rd in Central

12PM PST | Pepsi Center | Denver, Colorado
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Mile High Hockey, Jibblescribbits

Projected Sharks Lineup

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Marty Havlat - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels
Mike Brown - Andrew Desjardins - Tyler Kennedy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Brad Stuart - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Avalanche Lineup

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn
Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon
Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Max Talbot
Patrick Bordeleau - Marc-Andre Cliche - Brad Malone

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich
Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov
J-S Giguere