2019 NHL Playoffs – 2nd Round Preview – SJS vs. COL

Updated: April 25, 2019 at 7:50 pm by Dylan Berthiaume

The Colorado Avalanche were able to topple the Western Conference’s No.1 seed in round one, the Calgary Flames. The Avalanche were led by a pair of outstanding individual performances from Nathan MacKinnon (3G, 5A) and Philipp Grubauer (.939 SV%, 1.90 GAA). The two of them will no doubt need to be sharp again in round two if they want to advance passed the Sharks. San Jose took advantage of a fortuitous call late in Game 7, remarkably scoring four power-play goals in a span of four minutes. Barclay Goodrow went on to score the series-clinching goal in overtime, setting up this marquee matchup.

SJS (Reg.)

COL (Reg.)

SJS (Playoffs)

COL (Playoffs)

RECORD

46-27-9 (6TH)

38-30-14 (17TH)

4-3

4-1

GF/PG

3.52 (2ND)

3.15 (10TH)

3.29 (6th)

3.40 (4th)

GA/PG

3.15 (21ST)

2.98 (16TH)

3.57 (15th)

2.20 (4th)

5V5 SV%

.897 (31ST)

.923 (9TH)

.926 (10th)

.966 (1st)

PP%

23.6% (6TH)

22.0% (7TH)

23.5% (6th)

20.0 (9th)

PK%

80.8% (15TH)

78.7% (25TH)

72.4% (14th)

77.3% (10th)

CF%

54.87% (1ST)

49.86% (14TH)

47.23% (11th)

54.94% (3rd)


5v5

The Sharks have a significant advantage over Colorado in terms of depth, which should play to their favour at 5v5. San Jose posted the highest 5v5 CF% in the NHL during the regular season, thanks in large part to the strength of their top-nine forwards. Their depth down the middle means that San Jose almost always has a quality centre on the ice along with one of Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns. It’s a simple concept that’s proven to be incredibly effective this season.

Limiting the MacKinnon line is the key to victory for San Jose, as they should be able to drastically outplay Colorado’s second, third, and fourth lines. If the Sharks can keep the production of the top line within reason, they could make quick work of the Avs. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

The Avalanche averaged 29 scoring chances per 60 when MacKinnon was on the ice at 5v5 in the regular season. In the first round, that number skyrocketed to 41 scoring chances per 60. The Flames had trouble maintaining MacKinnon all series long, and San Jose could find themselves having similar issues. While each of their top three lines are quite dangerous offensively, the Sharks lack a reliable shutdown line. Head coach Pete DeBoer will sometimes use the Logan Couture line against the opposition’s best on home ice, to mixed results, but with Joe Pavelski’s status up in the air, DeBoer could opt to be more fluid in his line-matching. San Jose does not need to turn MacKinnon into a complete non-factor in this series, but they’re going to have a hard time advancing if they’re surrendering 40-plus scoring chances per 60 when he’s on the ice.

Special Teams

As we’ve already seen in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning the special teams matchup goes a long way towards winning a series. This second-round matchup features two of the best power-play teams in the NHL. The Sharks’ power-play was on full display in Game 7 against Vegas when they notched four goals on a single five-minute advantage. It wasn’t there for them all series long, but Game 7 was proof of the game-breaking ability of the Sharks’ power-play. After an admirable performance against Calgary’s potent power-play, Colorado’s penalty-killers will need to rise the occasion again against the Sharks.

San Jose was effective on the PK during the regular season but struggled against a below-average Golden Knights power-play in round one. Vegas posted a PP% of 27.8% against the Sharks, a significant increase from their regular season mark of 16.8%. Colorado finished the season with the league’s seventh-best power-play and looked every bit as good with the man advantage in round one. Given San Jose’s projected advantage at 5v5, Colorado will need their power-play to continue to be sharp in this series.

Goaltending

Like any playoff series, this one will ultimately be decided by goaltending. Martin Jones is the obvious weakness of what is an otherwise dominant Sharks team. Jones posted career lows in SV% (.896) and GAA (2.94) this season. Despite his struggles, San Jose was still able to win 36 of his 62 starts. Jones improved on his splits slightly in round one, thanks mostly to his miraculous 58-save performance in Game 6. This San Jose team is good enough to tolerate Jones’ inconsistencies if he’s able to steal a game or two like he did in the first round.

Above all else, Grubauer needs to perform well if Colorado is to have any chance of upsetting the Sharks. Grubauer entered the post-season hotter than any goalie in the NHL. He went 9-2-2 over his final 13 starts with a sparkling .956 SV%. He carried that momentum into round one against the Flames, who will no doubt be having nightmares of Grubauer all Summer long. The Sharks are going to have the upper-hand at even strength. Colorado has a chance if Grubauer can continue to play at an elite level. If he turns in anything that even remotely resembles mediocre goaltending, this one could be over in a hurry.

Predictions

Dylan: Sharks in 6️⃣

Brock: Avalanche in 7️⃣

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Dylan Berthiaume

Dylan has been an Associate Editor of DailyFaceoff since 2018 and a co-host of the DFO Podcast since 2015.
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