SAP CENTER, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
7:30 PM PST
RADIO: SPORTSNET 650
OPPOSING BLOG: FEAR THE FIN
If you’re still clinging onto hope for the Vancouver Canucks to make the playoffs, snagging two points tonight from the struggling San Jose Sharks is an absolute must.
Only the Arizona Coyotes (2-8-0) have been worse than the Sharks (2-5-3) over the past 10 games. San Jose has also lost four in a row, including a brutal performance on home ice against the Edmonton Oilers in their last contest.
If the Sharks can’t score on Stuart Skinner, they might have a tough time against Thatcher Demko.
The Canucks starting netminder is coming off of a 51-save performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Earlier today, Jim Rutherford was asked on Sportsnet 650 about the identity of the Canucks.
His answer was telling.
“We win a number of games because we have a franchise goalie. He makes up for a lot of our shortcomings.”
As bad as San Jose has been lately, they still have a better points percentage (.511) than the Canucks (.510).
The playoffs are unquestionably a longshot, but Vancouver does have three winnable games against divisional opponents coming up on the schedule. That begins tonight in San Jose, followed by home games against the Anaheim Ducks and the Seattle Kraken.
Canucks’ Projected Lineup
After testing positive for COVID-19, Quinn Hughes will return to the lineup tonight. Bruce Boudreau said that either Brad Hunt or Kyle Burroughs will come out of the lineup.
Based on the fact that Hunt was paired with Schenn at the Canucks last practice, we’ll assume he’s the one to come out of the lineup.
Hughes also confirmed that he had no symptoms during his bout with COVID.
Matthew Highmore will also return to the lineup tonight, replacing Alex Chiasson.
JT Miller — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Vasily Podkolzin — Elias Pettersson — Nils Hoglander
Tanner Pearson — Jason Dickinson — Conor Garland
Matthew Highmore — Juho Lammikko — Tyler Motte
Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes — Luke Schenn
Kyle Burroughs — Travis Hamonic
Starting: Thatcher Demko
Backup: Jaroslav Halak
Out: Tucker Poolman (illness), Alex Chiasson (healthy scratch)
Sharks’ Projected Lineup
Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Alex Barbanov
Rudolfs Balcers — Logan Couture — Jonathan Dahlen
Andrew Cogliano — Nick Bonino — Noah Gregor
Jeffrey Truchon-Viel — Lane Pederson — Matt Nieto
Mario Ferraro — Brent Burns
Jacob Middleton — Nicholas Meloche
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Ryan Merkley
Starting: James Reimer
Backup: Zach Sawchenko
Out: Kevin Labanc (shoulder), Adin Hill (lower body), Erik Karlsson (forearm), Jaycob Megna (foot), Jonah Gadjovich (healthy scratch), Radek Simek (healthy scratch)
The Canucks will face a couple of familiar faces in this contest. Jonathan Dahlen was making headlines earlier in the season after a hot start. He’s cooled off but he still has 11 goals and 20 points in 42 games, including three goals in his last five.
Nick Bonino is playing a lot (16:43 average time on ice), but his offence has fallen off of a cliff this season. He has five goals and 11 points in 45 games.
Jonah Gadjovich missed two weeks with a concussion earlier in January and aside from that, he’s been in and out of the press box. The 23-year-old leads the Sharks with 50 penalty minutes, but has just two assists in 26 games this season.
Game Day Battle Hymn
If I don’t post again on Nucks Misconduct, you know Kent kicked me off the squad for not picking a metal song.
Hey, if the Canucks want to keep that playoff push alive, they’ll need another moment tonight from someone on the team.
Both Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander have been snake-bitten at even strength. Those are two guys i have my eye on tonight.
Regardless, let’s go tame the reeling Sharks.