The Vancouver Canucks look to get back into the win column with a Thursday night tilt vs the San Jose Sharks at the friendly confines of Rogers Arena. The Canucks are well rested having not played since Sunday night in Anaheim and have a recent dominating performance against the Sharks to fall back on.
The Canucks dominated the Anaheim Ducks for long stretches, but could not score on some early, glorious opportunities in a deflating 3-1 victory Sunday night. The loss put a sour end to what looked like a very promising West Coast road trip. The Canucks outplayed the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks on the road trip, but only took home 3 points from their effort in these 3 excellent road games. The game against the Los Angeles Kings was a quick start with no production followed by a “cluster”.
The San Jose Sharks
Who knew the Sharks could lose? Seriously! A couple of weeks ago the media was making it sound like the Sharks were incapable of losing and were anointing them the de facto 2013-14 Stanley Cup Champions. Times change and the Sharks are coming back to reality. Tuesday night it took an overtime winner by Brad Stuart for the Sharks to defeat the lowly Calgary Flames 3-2. This was a game that the Sharks dominated from start to finish, yet the Flames hung in there. Early on in the season the Sharks would have buried a team in the 1st period and coasted the rest of the way for a lopsided win in a game like that. Times definitely do change!
Jannik Hansen returned to practice on Wednesday, but won’t play. Henrik Sedin wasn’t at practice (family-related), but will play. David Booth is back from his three game, zero goals, one assist experience with the Utica Comets and will play on the third line. Here’s how the rest of the lines should look:
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Burrows
Booth – Richardson - Kassian
Sestito – Welsh – Dalpe
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
The pretend Frank Costanza report…
1. Capitalize On Early Opportunities
I realize this is another way of saying score early, but I keep using that one and the Canucks never listen. Sadly the Canucks have been getting some absolutely stupid chances early in games to get the first goal, but they just cannot seem to get an early lead. In the disastrous game vs the Kings, the Canucks easily should have been up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Canucks don’t score and the momentum of the game completely changed. For the love of Pete (who is this Pete guy), get the first goal Canucks! “SERENITY NOW!”
2. Leaders Lead
Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, and Alex Burrows need to step up. Production has gone dry the last few games from this group and the Canucks need production from at least 2 of these 4 players if they are to have any success against the Sharks. “SERENITY NOW!”
3. Score on the PP!
The Canucks power play is a disaster. John Tortorella flat out said that the Canucks power play “sucked” vs the Ducks. The power play has sucked all season despite excellent possession time and some high quality chances. The Canucks simply need to work harder on the power play, get into those dirty areas, and capitalize when chances arise. Simple, right? I’m getting to the point where I actually get upset when the Canucks get a power play as it is often a momentum killer for them. “SERENITY NOW!”
I’m getting tired of predicting Canucks vs Sharks games (I have predicted the three prior games)! I love a challenge, but it just seems like it is such a toss-up when these 2 teams play against each other. That being said, I believe the Canucks deserved better on their West Coast road trip and the Sharks are in a minor funk. The Canucks win this 4-2 in an entertaining, seesaw battle. Book it!
Follow Ian Lusher on Twitter at @IanLusher