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GAME DAY PREVIEW- Game 49: Canucks vs San Jose

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Coming off a huge win over Arizona, the Canucks can do themselves a favour by dispatching a Pacific Division rival in their last game before the All Star break.

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs SAN JOSE SHARKS

7:00 PM PST ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SPORTSNET, SN1, SN360, CBC, CITY. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: FEAR THE FIN

They’ve been beasts at home this season, something I don’t think they’re getting enough credit for, and if they can pull off another home ice victory, they’ll head into the All Star break as the top team in the Pacific Division. They’ll need to do it by beating a team that wins haven’t come easy against: the San Jose Sharks. They’re 1-1 versus the Sharks this season, the most recent one a 4-2 loss in San Jose.

They’re coming off a pretty impressive win over the Arizona Coyotes, something they weren’t able to do last season, on goals from Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson, and got another solid performance from Jacob Markstrom to give the Canucks their 10th win in their last 13. That’s a hell of a run they’re on at the moment, even with those ugly losses against Tampa, Florida and Winnipeg in there. They have another game coming up against the Sharks to close out January, with a game against the St Louis Blues in between, and can finish the month with a record of 8-3-0 if they run the table. February is going to be a tough one, with a 4 game road swing that includes weekend morning back to back games against the Islanders and Carolina (can we seriously knock this garbage off? It’s absolutely pathetic that the Pacific teams are made to do this to appease the tv schedule in this way, something that’s far easier on the host teams than the visitors). They then travel to Boston for a huge game against the Bruins, then Minnesota before a big 6 game homestand with 5 different Western Conference rivals and another showdown with Boston, then it’s back on the road for another Eastern swing to round out the month. These two road trips will literally make or break their season, so getting every possible point they can at home is crucial, especially against teams below them in the standings.

The Sharks have been inconsistent at best this season, and the dismissal of head coach Pete DeBoer (now behind the bench in Vegas) for Bob Boughner didn’t have the desired effect, as they’re still struggling. They’re 4-3-1 this month, and have dropped their last two contests to Arizona and Colorado, getting outscored 10-3 in the process. The biggest issue is and continues to be goaltending, but a floundering power play and a team that just doesn’t shoot the puck enough to be successful is also contributing to the mess they find themselves in. A need for a rebuild is around the corner if not already upon them, and if they want any hope of staying in the playoff hunt, they’re going to have to start playing a hell of a lot better than we’ve seen from them so far, but with the goalies they have, it seems like a little too much to ask, even moreso with Logan Couture out weeks with a fractured ankle.

LINEUPS:

Sharks projected lineup

Evander KaneTomas HertlJoachim Blichfeld

Barclay GoodrowAntti SuomelaPatrick Marleau

Timo MeierJoe ThorntonKevin Labanc

Melker KarlssonJoel KellmanStefan Noesen

Marc-Edouard VlasicErik Karlsson

Brenden DillonBrent Burns

Radim SimekMario Ferraro

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Tim Heed, Marcus Sorensen

Injured: Logan Couture (fractured ankle), Dalton Prout (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. MillerElias PetterssonJake Virtanen

Tanner PearsonBo HorvatLoui Eriksson

Antoine RousselAdam GaudetteBrock Boeser

Tyler MotteJay BeagleBrandon Sutter

Quinn HughesChristopher Tanev

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher

Oscar FantenbergTyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Zack MacEwen, Jordie Benn, Tim Schaller

Injured: Josh Leivo (kneecap), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Tyler Graovac (lower body)

Thatcher Demko gets the start tonight, as the team gives Jacob Markstrom a well deserved rest. It looks like Aaron Dell will get the start for the Sharks.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

Barcelona based thrashers CRISIX are the GDBH band tonight, with a kickass cover of Bay Area legends VIO-LENCE’s ‘World In A World’. The track comes from ‘Crisix Sessions #1-American Thrash’, an album featuring covers of Nuclear Assault, EvilDead, Exodus, Forbidden, Anthrax, Testament and Demolition Hammer tunes as well as this one. These guys are a ton of fun, and well worth checking out.