Nov 072013
 

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The Vancouver Canucks top line. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.
(Source: faceoff.com)

Vancouver Canucks (10-5-2)
San Jose Sharks (10-1-4)

The Vancouver Canucks will continue their Pacific Division swing tonight as they once go up against the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks are looking for their first win of the season against the Sharks. Scratch that, the Canucks are looking for their first win against the Sharks after 9 (!) straight losses. This is the third of four games between the two teams this season, with the Sharks obviously winning the first two, both by a 4-1 score.

After winning 10 of their first 12 games, the Sharks have lost 3 straight now. Although, they’ve at least picked up a point in each one. In fact, they’ve picked up at least a point in 14 of their first 15 games this season. Their only loss in regulation so far was against the Boston Bruins in Boston a couple of weeks ago. As for the Canucks, they’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games (1-1-1).

Who’s Hot

The Canucks’ top line of Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler continue to be hot. Daniel has 9 points (5 goals – 4 assists) in a 7-game point streak, Hank is on a career-high 12-game point streak (3 goals – 14 assists), and Kes has points in 7 of his last 8 games (6 goals – 4 assists – 10 points).

Roberto Luongo has also been playing well. He has a 0.950 save percentage in his last 3 games.

For the Sharks, Joe Pavelski is on a 4-game point streak (3 goals – 1 assist – 4 points) and leads the Sharks in scoring with 17 points (6 goals – 11 assists).

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are still without forwards Jordan Schroeder, Jannik Hansen, Dale Weise and David Booth. Booth is on a conditioning assignment in Utica, and isn’t expected to return until mid-November.

The San Jose Sharks are expected to play without forward Brent Burns (mouth). Forwards Adam Burish and Raffi Torres are both recovering from surgery and will not be playing.

May 022013
 

Photo credit: Jeff Vinnick via NHL.com

After an abbreviated season, the Vancouver Canucks opened up the postseason with a 3-1 loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. Looking back at the game and looking ahead to the next one, there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:

Searching for the Right Line Combinations

The Canucks forwards simply did not create enough shots or scoring opportunities. This continues a trend of low-scoring games as the Canucks have not scored more than 3 goals in a game since their 4-2 win over Nashville on April 15. I must admit that I was a tad befuddled when I learned the line combinations on Monday for last night’s game.

We know that Burrows with the Sedins is pretty much a given (for now) and that the fourth line will consist of any combo of Ebbett, Weise, Sestito, Pinizzotto, and sometimes Lapierre. The Canucks started game one with a second line of Kesler between Higgins and Kassian, and a third line of Roy between Raymond and Hansen. While Roy and Kesler were likely separated to spread the Canucks’ centres over three lines to counter Thornton, Couture, and Pavelski, I was surprised that Higgins was placed on Kesler’s wing and not Roy’s. In the few games that they played together, Higgins and Roy looked like a dangerous combo. Instead, they found themselves on different lines to start the series.

We all know that coach Alain Vigneault has no problem with juggling his lines. I’d like to see Roy between Hansen and Higgins leaving Kesler to centre Raymond and Kassian. Who knows – if AV is confident in Lapierre, we might see Kesler and Roy reunited on a second line to give the Canucks more scoring potential. Moving Lapierre up would likely mean Kassian moving down to the fourth line… a position he found himself in by the end of game one.

Home Ice Disadvantage

With the Canucks loss, they have now lost 5 straight playoff games at home – a stretch dating back to game 7 on June 15, 2011 against the Boston Bruins. Obviously, a lot has to do with the quality of opposition, but for whatever reason Rogers Arena is not a difficult place for opposing teams to win in during the playoffs.

The Canucks’ regular season home record was decent at 15-6-3 while San Jose’s road record was a pathetic 8-14-2. By contrast, San Jose’s regular season home record was a sparkling 17-2-5. Thus, you can see just how important it will be for the Canucks to triumph in game two and tie the series up. If they lose, they won’t be able to beat this strong San Jose team 4 times out of 5 (with 3 of the games in San Jose).

Canucks fans need to get a lot louder and a little more rowdy (much to the chagrin of Rogers Arena employees). After all, isn’t this what we live for?

Every Game is a Pivotal Game

Get ready to hear about how much game two is a “pivotal” game. Captain Obvious here would like to point out that going to San Jose tied one game apiece is a lot better than going in down two games.

Then, game three will become pivotal as it will either create an almost insurmountable deficit at 3 games to 0, or one team will at least take a stronghold in the series. Game one was intuitively pivotal as both teams wanted to get off to a good start.

The point being that every single game in the playoffs is a pivotal game. Now the Canucks need to start playing like it.

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