The Vancouver Canucks host their newest nemesis, the San Jose Sharks, tomorrow night at Rogers Arena. The season opener vs. the Sharks was a spirited affair, but one that ended with a similar result, a 4-1 loss in the Shark Tank. The Canucks have lost eight straight games to the Sharks (I refuse to count preseason games) and I, for one, am getting sick of it.
The Canucks beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 with a Mike Santorelli OT winner past ex-Canuck, Cory Schneider. The game was predictably unentertaining given the style of play New Jersey is known for, but the Schneider vs Luongo game within a game did not disappoint. Both goalies were sharp. Those looking at the game objectively should understand why Canuck management placed so much value on both these goalies and why the situation was much more complicated than has been stated. Simply put, the Canucks were in a rare position of having two outstanding goalies at the same time.
The San Jose Sharks are flat out the hottest team in the NHL. They are coming off a 9-2 dismantling of Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers. A game in which rookie Thomas Hertl scored 4 goals. This is the second season in a row that the Sharks have come out of the gates on fire. I’ll acknowledge they are a good team, but when things go the Sharks way, they really go their way.
This is likely that last time we will see the lines constructed this way with Zack Kassian coming off suspension for Saturday’s game vs the Montreal Canadiens. That being said, Tortorella is very quick to change his lines up, something that has keyed the Canucks comebacks the last few games. Take it for what it’s worth! These lines may last for all of 10 minutes!
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Santorelli
Higgins – Kesler – Hansen
Weise – Richardson – Booth
Sestito – Dalpe – Weber
Edler – Bieksa
Hamhuis – Garrison
Stanton – Tanev
If Torts would tell us, he would say…
1. “Slay The Dragon”
Simply put, the Canucks need to get this streak of nonstop losing to the Sharks out of their head and put an end to it. The mainstream media is already going on ad nasueam about how the Canucks just “do not match up well” vs. the Sharks. This is complete BS! I find the Canucks-Sharks games to be highly competitive. Of late, the Sharks have had the Canucks number, but nothing lasts forever.
2. Offense From Defense
A big key to the Canucks early success has been offensive contribution from the defence. Jason Garrison and Alex Edler, in particular, have added some much needed offensive punch from the back end. This needs to continue against the Sharks for the Canucks to win.
3. 60 Minutes of Stiffness (I’ve had that one ready to go for a month)
The Canucks need to play a full 60 minutes of “stiff”, aggressive hockey. In the season opener the Canucks overwhelmed the Sharks for small segments of the game. If they can sustain the aggressive forecheck that Tortorella is trying to get them to play for all 3 periods, I like the Canucks chances.
I can’t bet against the Canucks on this one. I still believe the Sharks are over-rated. Every NHL team faces adversity during a season and, for the Sharks, October 10th will be the day circled for which that adversity commenced. Let’s face it, I also have sheer randomness on my side as well. Canucks 4-1.
Follow Ian Lusher on Twitter at @IanLusher