San Jose it is
The Canucks will meet the Sharks in the Western Conference Final
The San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks have never met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 Thursday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal to advance to the West Final for the second time in as many years and third time in franchise history.
The Canucks, also making their third Conference Final appearance, have been waiting for a winner to emerge from this series since knocking out the Nashville Predators this past Monday.
How do San Jose and Vancouver stack up? Here's a rundown of what played out between the clubs this year.
In four regular season games in 2010-11, Vancouver took points in every meeting going 3-0-1. For two teams with plenty of fire power, special teams were not a major factor as the Canucks went a combined 3-for-15 on the power play while the Sharks went 2-for-12.
Last year, Daniel Sedin was held to just one goal and one assist in four games against the Sharks. This year, he responded in a big way by leading all Canucks in head-to-head scoring with two goals and four helpers. Henrik Sedin, with only three assists against San Jose in the 2009.10 season, collected one goal and four assists this year.
Roberto Luongo started two of the four games against San Jose this season, both at Rogers Arena. He allowed two goals against on a combined 79 shots, giving him a sparkling .975 save percentage. Lifetime against the Sharks, Luongo has gone 7-10-3 and he has yet to record a shut-out against his Bay Area rivals.
Ryan Kesler, who is the current NHL playoff scoring leader with five goals and ten assists, had just three assists in four meetings with San Jose. In 21 career games against the Sharks, Kesler has two goals and seven assists. Keep in mind, Kesler had only scored two career goals against the Predators prior to putting up 11 points in his last four games of the Nashville series.
Entering this season, the Canucks were 19-19-6 lifetime in games played at the HP Pavilion. It had also been a while since they won a game at the Shark Tank (Apr.07.07). All that changed this year though, as the Canucks took both games in San Jose.
The last meeting with the Sharks was arguably the most entertaining regular season road game the Canucks have had in years. Back and forth action was on display from both teams as the two sides combined for 76 shots. Cory Schneider made 44 saves while Alex Burrows had the opening goal of the night and the winner in the shoot-out to lead the Canucks to a 5-4 win.
The lone Canucks player who has played for the Sharks is defenceman Christian Ehrhoff, who is currently tied for top spot in the playoffs for points by a blue-liner (2-7-9). In seven career meetings against his former club, Ehrhoff has just four assists, three of which came this season.
San Jose finished atop the Pacific Division this season with a record of 48-25-9. Only the Canucks had a better power play than the Sharks who scored on 23.5% of their man advantages. San Jose did have the best power play on home ice of any team in the league, scoring 41 PPG in 41 games at the Tank.
For the first time in many years, the Sharks did not have a player finish in the Top 10 in NHL scoring. However the likes of Patrick Marleau (37-36-73), Joe Thorton (21-49-70), and Dany Heatley (26-38-64) are all capable of getting the job done on any given night.
They also have a Stanley Cup winning goaltender in the mix with Antti Niemi manning the crease. His numbers against the Canucks weren’t great during the season putting up a 3.64 GAA and .896 save percentage.
There’s only one player on San Jose’s line-up that at one time wore a Canucks uniform and that’s Kyle Wellwood. He only played twice against Vancouver this season after joining the Sharks midway through the year from the KHL. In 35 games this season, he scored five goals and eight assists and was +10.
The Western Conference Final begins with Game 1 Sunday night at Rogers Arena.