Sharks' Physicality Could Play Big Role Against Avalanche in Game 3

Suffice to say, the Sharks current playoff series with the Avalanche isn't anywhere near as physical as their previous seven-game battle against the Vegas Golden Knights.

But could a late-game hit change all of that Tuesday in Game 3?

Avalanche forward Matt Calvert will miss Game 3 due to an upper-body injury he sustained being hip-checked by Brent Burns late in the third period of the Sharks' 4-3 loss in Game 2. When asked about how Calvert's absence could impact the team, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar pointed to the physical element the winger provides.

"That physicality is something we need in our lineup," Bednar said. "That grit and sandpaper that he plays with."

Could this encourage the Avalanche to push back harder and be more physical against the Sharks in Game 3? Jamie Baker said during NBC Sports California's live Facebook discussion on Tuesday morning a more physical game from the Avs isn't guaranteed.

"While I think there's going to be some physicality, I don't think that's Colorado's game plan," Baker said. "Do they really want that? Do they want trench warfare against the Sharks? I don't think so. That doesn't play into their game. They want this to be as fast a game as possible. They don't want whistles, they want to fatigue the Sharks from a skating standpoint."

The Avalanche are, in fact, one of the least physical teams in the current playoff landscape. They're ranked ninth among all playoff teams with 202 hits registered through seven postseason games, averaging about 28 hits per game. Not surprisingly, the Sharks are much higher on that list ranked third overall, with a total of 322 hits tallied through nine playoff games, averaging 35 hits per contest.

With speed being Colorado's big weapon, San Jose will be tasked with using their own physicality to take the center of the ice away from the Avalanche and slow the game down. This will be extra important against the super speedy Nathan MacKinnon line, but also against puck-moving defensemen like Tyson Barrie and Sam Girard.

"If you get a chance to hit them, you've got to put a lick on them and let them know it's going to be a hard series," Baker said.

With a physical player like Calvert out of the lineup for Game 3, the Sharks can really tilt the ice in their favor by imposing a heavy game on the Avalanche, whether Colorado chooses to up their level of physicality or make the game as quick-paced as possible.

[RELATED: Brent Burns is heating up offensively]

"They're going to play faster here than they did in San Jose," Baker said. "Which is kind of a scary thought."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us