|Time||Thurs. 7:30 PM PST
|Season Series||2-1 Canucks
||2-1 Sharks (Jan 20)|
Battle of California (again!), Fear The Fin
||Goals For / Against +/-||+19|
||Goals Per Game||2.73 (15)
||Goals Against Per Game||2.49 (9)
||Power Play %
||Penalty Kill %
||Shots Per Game||33.9 (1)
||Shots Against Per Game||28.4 (6)
||Faceoffs %||53.5 (2)
||PIM's Per Game Average
Update: Higgins draws in on the fourth, Raymond is confirmed for the second, Tambo sits.
Zandberg is getting the night off for a bag skate practice on being a father, so you're stuck with me.
Next up on smug nation's diplomatic tour is San Jose, home of Nikki Sixx, the Lick Observatory and the Sharks. Much like Chicago, we shouldn't have expected San Jose to waddle in mediocrity for as long as they did. Winners of four of their last five and nine of their last ten, they represent one of the last remaining elite teams Vancouver will meet before this stuff starts counting for real.
The hottest team against the best team? This sells itself.
Heatley/Thornton/Marleau remain as formidable a top line as there can be. Marleau scored the OT winner against the Predators on Tuesday, Heatley leads the team in points (55) and Thornton leads the league comfortably with 97 takeaways (for comparison Kesler leads Vancouver with 53). Ryane Clowe has six points and two OT winners in the past nine games, Logan Couture is having a great season and Todd McLellan can drop in "little" Joe Pavelski in several places in the top nine. Not too shabby. Since you'll want to know, Wellwood has five points (4G, 1A) in 27 games and averages about 13 and half minutes per game.
On defense the tough minutes guys are Murray and Boyle and, though Boyle is out with an upper body boo boo, the Sharks have gone 4-1 without him. McLellan has spread Boyle's minutes around the group and they've responded well. New contract Niemi sported a spiffy 10-2 record through February. Back to front, there aren't too many weaknesses except their PK.
Thankfully, Vancouver's PP is beginning to show signs of life and could be the game changer. No reason not to expect another strong game from Money's line as they've looked strong in every game on this road trip. The Sedins collectively have ten points in their last three and Daniel will need to pour on some more as Stamkos is back to one point behind him in the race. Cory Schneider mans the pipes and he's beaten San Jose once already this season. After a one game absence, Raymond rejoins KesLORD's line and we'll see how long that shoulder lasts. Tambellini should sit in favor of Chris Higgins who will see limited duties with Glass and Lapierre, but could make his way onto the special teams as well.
Fun Fact: Vancouver has handed Niemi his worst stats of the season. If only that would make up for the post season angst.
Video: There can only be one since this will never get old.
Crystal Ballin': I hate guessing the score, but since I have blind faith in the Ginger Jesus, I'll call it 3-1 with goals for Daniel, Samuelsson and an ENG for Kesler. I'm also confident Ballard won't eclipse 15 minutes of icetime and Rome will sniff at 20. Twitter will be furious and new angry hashtags will be born.