The Sharks are off to an extremely slow start, and now it's hard to blame that on the trip to Europe. It was easy to explain away the home opener loss to the Thrashers and attribute it to the fact that the team had a week in-between games, which is generally far too long. It's not so easy to rationalize the beatdown at the hands of the Hurricanes by that same criteria.
In the 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, goalie Antti Niemi gave up five of 31 shots on goal and once again made it known that San Jose's netminder situation is less-than-stellar, and at best, a question mark. The defense didn't do anything to help him as turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers sealed their fate in the end.
Their biggest problems lie in the aforementioned turnovers. They have guys who can steal the puck, they have guys who can put it in the net and they have a pair of goalies who really aren't that bad. But just about all of the guys just mentioned give up the puck on a regular basis. They can't have that.
Joe Thornton says the team needs to be smarter. Scott Nichol echoes the sentiments. Coach Todd McLellan is of the same mindset, and chose to work his team in the video room as opposed to having them slave on the ice. They need to not make those mental mistakes if they're to beat the Avalanche tonight.
One can assume that Antero Niittymaki will be getting the start for the Sharks tonight in Colorado. Then again, one may have assumed he would be getting the goaltending duties against the Hurricanes as well. Either way, he'll look to distinguish himself as a good goaltender and earn himself some more minutes in net.
In keeping with the turnover talk, Niittymaki should make life a little easier for his comrades on the ice, he's been proven to give up less rebounds on a more consistent basis than Niemi, limiting scrambles and keeping his team for becoming disorganized.
Craig Anderson will be in the net for the Avalanche, and he boasts an impressive .925 save percentage through the beginning of the season. He'll have the offensive support of Chris Stewart, already with five goals on the season, and guys like Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny.