Olympic Hangovers and Flying Sedins: Canucks-Sharks Game Preview

  Canucks (45-25-4)
Sharks (45-19-10)

AT

Time 7:00 PM PST
TV CBC
Season Series 1-1
Last Meeting 3-2 Canucks (03-18-10)
The Enemy  Fear The Fin Scoring Leaders H. Sedin: 28-71-99 Thornton: 19-66-85
Canucks
Category Sharks
3rd Conference Position 1st
6-2-2
Last 10 4-5-1
3.23 (2)
Goals Per Game 3.15 (4)
2.54 (9)
Least Goals Against Per Game 2.53 (7)
1.28 (2)
5 On 5 GF/GA 1.21 (3)
21.4 (5)
Power Play %
21.6 (4)
81.9 (16) Penalty Kill %
85.3 (4)
30.6 (12)
Shots Per Game 32.1 (6)
29.2 (10)
Least Shots Against Per Game 31.0 (18)
80.0 (3)
Winning % When Scoring First 78.8 (4)
85.2 (4)
Winning % When Leading After 1 81.8 (7)
43.6 (5)
Winning % When Trailing After 1 46.3 (2)
96.7 (3)
Winning % When Leading After 2 86.5 (14)
33.3 (2)
Winning % When Trailing After2 20.8 (7)
51.5 (5)
Faceoffs % 55.9 (1)
15.1 (26)
Least PIM's Per Game 13.8 (21)
+39 (2)
+ / - GF/GA (see here)
+28 (4)

 

Update (3:29): Tap of the ol' glove to The Canuck Fan for pointing out that Ryan Johnson and Patrick Marleau will be the guest on HNIC's After Hours tonight.

Update (3:09): The Sharks big 3 (Heatley, Thornton and Marleau) were separated onto 3 different lines a couple games ago and the Sharks have not lost since. The same lines apply tonight.  Wise move, coach McLellan!

Update (2:12 PST): I didn't think of this until I saw it on the Twitter updates: It's Earth Hour day. That means that wherever you are on this planet you can participate by turning off your lights at 8:30 PM. Oh, it's just lights...TV's don't count...phew!

Update: I gotta quote andrew21nz from the comments section:

Hank needs one assist to set a new Canucks franchise record for most assists in a season (currently tied with his 2006-07 season on 71)

He will also be the first Canucks since Naslund in the 02-03 season to crack 100 points. He has a good chance of beating 110 points 1992-93 season by Bure (dunno who that is sorry :p) to become the highest scoring Canuck in a season

*******************

It's a huge Saturday for the Canucks. There are so many stories that can and will play out today. Examples:

-If the Canucks win and Colorado loses, they will hold a 7 point lead on them for the Northwest Division title. To me that is the most important factor.

-If the Canucks lose and the Avalanche win....well...that is a whole new can of worms. Plus that will most likely make the Canucks-Avalanche tilt on April 6 that much more significant. I prefer burying those buggers now, not later. It's easier on the ol' ticker.

-A win by Vancouver will pull them within 3 points of Chicago, who are 2nd in the West and are in the middle of a potential goaltending controversy. The Hawks do not play on Saturday.

-This is not the final meeting of the regular season. The Canucks play the Sharks in the Tank again on April 8, the second-last game of the season.

-Roberto Luongo returns to the Canucks' net in a game that he is going to have to play in godly fashion. Luongo told reporters on Friday that he feels that his batteries are recharged after the emotional toil of the Olympics. Well he's going to need a few "D" batteries against the Sharks in the Tank, and some help from his mates as well. When I say help, I mean that the team has to play in front of him as well as they did in front of Raycroft against Anaheim.

Speaking of Olympic toils and hangovers...the Sharks had a few players of their own that may or may not have suffered from it: Nabokov, Thornton, Heatley, Marleau..Bullshit I say!  San Jose played 5 straight home games after the Olympics ended and finished 3-1-1. It was the ensuing road trip where they fell apart. They had 1 win and 6 losses on that 7 game trip. They were outscored 25-14. The sky was falling! But wait! They won the last game of that trip 4-1 over the Wild, then returned home 2 nights later to beat the Stars 3-0. Yeah, that same Stars team that had killed them 8-2 a week earlier.

Evgeni Nabokov was in goal for both of those games. No one's out the lynch him now are they? San Jose seems to have found their groove back. In their last 2 wins:

-Rob Blake had 1 goal and 3 assists

-Ryan Clowe had 3 assists

-Joe Thornton had 1 goal (empty netter) and 1 assist

-Dan Boyle also had 1 goal and 1 assist

-Patrick Marleau had 2 assists

-Dany Heatley had 1 goal and 8 shots.

Vancouver has not won in San Jose since April 2007. They are 1-3-1 since then. So this is a big challenge for our kick ass friends.

Good news for Canucks fans:

-Henrik Sedin has 5 assists in his last 3 games

-Daniel Sedin has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5.

-Ryan Kesler has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 games.

-Christian Ehrhoff has 1 goal and 3 assists in his last 5 games. So does Alexander Edler.

The bad news is that there hasn't been much scoring beyond the Sedins and Kesler lately. The Sharks will most likely smother the Twins in their rink so it's time for the Crack Line to chip in more as a group. Michael Grabner looks inches away from getting his scoring on track, as does Mason Raymond. Grabner will keep getting chances as long as Pavol Demitra remains out for personal reasons. Demitra did not make the trip. Kyle Wellwood seems an offensive threat lately and has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 games, but he is flanked by 2 guys named Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen who have a combined 2 assists in their last 5 games. Hey, lord knows I love the Danish bugger, but since he scored 2 goals in 2 games back in early March, he has gone goal-less in 8 straight games. Glass is...well, Glass. He hasn't scored since November 28..That was something like 43 games ago.

Bottom line...I miss Mikael Samuelsson!

But hey! I'm up for surprises!

A couple of clips to send your way:

1. Canucks beat Sharks at GM Place (March 18, 2010):

Was that great or what?

2. Vintage: Sharks-Canucks rough stuff. Is that Bure throwing punches?

3. Oh Mickey you're not fine, Rypien just blew your mind hey Mickey!

4. Mats Sundin's first goal as a Canuck came against....

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