Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gameday: Canucks at Sharks

The Vancouver Canucks begin a three game California road trip tonight in San Jose. Vancouver is coming off an impressive 4-1 victory over the league leading Detroit Redwings, while the streaky Sharks are currently on a 3 game streak of the not so good variety.

Team Notes

Vancouver Canucks (11-5-3)

Special Teams: PK (81.3% 20th) PP (16.7% 19th) PPopp/TS (131/107 +24)

  • Vancouver is a perfect 7-0 outside of their own division, however they have lost their last 4 games on the road.
  • After reagravating his groin in practice yesterday, Steve McCarthy is not on the road trip. That means Josh Green is back up with the club and Wade Brookbank will dress as the 6th defenseman.
  • The big line is rolling for Vancouver with 14 points in their last 3 games, including a hat-trick performance by Todd Bertuzzi against Detroit.
  • Dan Cloutier will start in goal. Cloutier is coming off what was arguably his best game of the season.

San Jose Sharks (8-7-2)

Special Teams: PK (81.8% 18th) PP (13.2% 27th) PPopp/TS (113/88 +25)

  • San Jose has lost three in a row, scoring only six goals during that time. The Sharks have struggled with offence this season, scoring only 2.71 goals per game.
  • Evgeni Nabokov returned to the net against Dallas after missing 8 games. He is expected to start tonight.
  • Scott Hannan, who played on Canada's World Cup blueline, is struggling with only 3 points and a -12 rating.
  • LW Scott Thornton has missed the last 5 games, but could suit up tonight. Thornton has given Vancouver trouble in the past.
  • To help improve their struggling power-play, San Jose is experimenting with Patrick Marleau on the point. It worked for one goal against Dallas.

Game Notes

  • Both of these teams have struggled on special teams this season, however they are both good at generating more power play opportunities than shorthanded opportunities. In fact San Jose has only been shorthanded 88 times this season.
  • While San Jose is currently stuggling they've got the talent to turn it around in a hurry. Players like Marleau and Sturm are very dangerous and could break out at any time. Vancouver can't afford to turn the puck over in their own end or they'll soon find it in the back of their net.
  • One other thing these teams share in common is a lack of faceoff prowess. Both are sitting at 48%. This is likely a factor in the stuggling special teams.
  • With the poor special team rankings, five-on-five play could decide this one. Not exactly a good thing for San Jose who have a 0.72 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio, compared to Vancouver's 1.07.
  • Finally, both teams are perfect when leading after the first period, something tells me that will change tonight ;)

I would say that this game is Vancouver's to lose. Right now they have their offense on track while San Jose does not. San Jose will have to jump on Vancouver early and win the special teams battle if they hope to break their slump.

TV: PPV 7:30.

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