The common theme today is how important tomorrow night’s game against the San Jose Sharks. It’s a big game and a benchmark game. It’s a chance to show they can hold their own against the Western Conference elite.
The truth is, the Canucks haven’t had a lot of success against the West’s top four teams. They had a couple of nice wins against Detroit and Calgary early in the season and a come-from-behind shootout win against Calgary and blowout win against Chicago in the last month. Overall, however, they are an unimpressive 6-8-1 against the Sharks, Red Wings, Flames and Blackhawks (0.433 percentage of points gained).
Compare this to their 27-14-7 record against the rest of the league (0.635 percentage of points gained).
It’s easy to see where the Canucks are having a tough time. Defensively, they’re allowing 0.73 more goals per game, including 0.25 more powerplay goals per game, against the top-four in the West than they are against the rest of the league; offensively, they’re scoring 0.34 less powerplay goals per game.
Make no mistake. I think it’s great that the Canucks are able to play well against teams lower than them in the standings. Saturday night is one step in proving they can beat the ones above them.