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Avalanche Vs. Sharks: The Erik Johnson Era Dawns

Have you caught your breath yet, Colorado Avalanche fans? The last 24 hours have seen goalie Craig Anderson shipped to the Ottawa Senators for goalie Brian Elliott (Anderson will start for Ottawa tonight, on NHL Network at 5pm MST), and then of course the megadeal: Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk have been traded to the St. Louis Blues for the 2006 first overall draft selection defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Jay McClement.

Johnson adds a defensive element that Colorado has missed all season, and McClement should add some stability to a Colorado forward corps that has seen substantial attrition due to injury. Both players missed the morning skate, but will make their debuts in Colorado sweaters this evening.

Tonight's opponent, the San Jose Sharks, are one of the Pacific Division teams vying for a playoff spot. They are on a 7-2-1 streak in their past 10 games and are only one point out of the division lead. Erik Johnson will have a difficult matchup in his first game as he's likely to skate against one of the NHL's top lines led by Patrick Marleau. Goalie Antti Niemi has been dominant of late, posting a .934 SV% and 1.80 GAA his past eight starts.

With these trades, Colorado has already started to look towards next season. San Jose is fighting for home ice this season. This should be a game that Avalanche fans should watch for the must-see debut of Erik Johnson in his brand new #6 Colorado sweater.

Peter Budaj will start in net tonight. Antti Niemi is the likely starter for San Jose.

Puck drops at 8:30 p.m. MST.