Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Sharks (4.1.13)
|Team Record: 19-10-6
Last Game: 0-4 L at Edmonton (MAR.30.13)
Season Series: 0-1-1
Last Meeting: 2-3 SO/L (MAR.05.13)
|Team Record: 17-11-6
Last Game: 3-2 SO/W vs Phoenix (MAR.30.13)
Season Series: 2-0-0
Last Meeting: 3-2 SO/W (MAR.05.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (19-10-6) will try to rebound from a 4-0 loss to the Oilers on Saturday by picking up a win against the San Jose Sharks (17-11-6) tonight at the HP Pavilion.What You Need to Know
- The Canucks are hoping to begin a new win streak tonight after having their six-game win streak snapped on Saturday in an embarrassing 4-0 loss in Edmonton. Vancouver will close out their short two-game road trip tonight.
- The Sharks come into tonight's game as winners of four straight games and five of their last six overall. San Jose is playing the fourth game of their seven-game home stand. They're coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Coyotes – a victory that improved their record on their current home stand to a perfect 3-0.
- Tonight marks the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Sharks this season. Vancouver is still seeking their first win of the series after dropping the first two games (0-1-1). In their most recent clash at Rogers Arena back on March 5, Vancouver battled back from a two-goal deficit but couldn't fully complete the comeback as they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision.
- Two new Canucks are expected to make their season debuts tonight in F Nicklas Jensen and F Bill Sweatt. Both were recalled from Chicago (AHL) yesterday. In Jensen's case, tonight would mark his NHL debut. To make room for the newcomers, the Canucks assigned F Zack Kassian and F Andrew Gordon to the farm.
- Canucks G Cory Schneider saw his six-game win streak come to an end on Saturday and while he might get back between the pipes tonight, here's making the case for G Roberto Luongo to start. Luongo is unbeaten in his last five regular season starts against the Sharks (3-0-2). If you combine playoff starts, he has just one outright loss to the Sharks in his last 10 outings (7-1-2).
- Sharks G Antti Niemi will likely make his 13th straight start tonight. He has started both games this season against the Canucks posting a 2-0 record with a 1.45 GAA and a .952 save percentage.
- The Canucks have an opportunity to re-take first place in the Northwest Division tonight but they'll need some help from the out-of-town scoreboard in order to do so. Vancouver begins the day tied with Minnesota in points with 44 but the Wild have a game in hand. The Wild host the Blues today in a game that faces off at 5 pm PT.
- Playing on April Fools' Day has not yielded many laughs for the Canucks in recent years. They've lost their last three games played on April Fools' Day, including most recently in 2010 when they fell 8-3 to the LA Kings at the Staples Center, and four of their last five overall. Vancouver's all-time record on April Fools' Day is 7-7-2 while their all-time road record on this day is 3-3-1.
- Sharks D Brad Stuart leads all players in the season series with three points (0-3-3). Canucks F Alex Burrows (1-1-2) and Jannik Hansen (1-1-2) share the team lead with two points each.
- If you discount their two empty-net goals late last Thursday against the Avalanche, the Canucks have scored only two goals against a goaltender in their last 210:31 of game play.
Tonight's game faces off at 7:30 pm PT and can be seen on Sportsnet Pacific. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
- They atone for Saturday's embarrassing outing. The Canucks' performance two nights ago against the Oilers was about as bad as it could get. Not only did they come out flat but they didn't seem too interested in trying to rally and perhaps stage a comeback. After a dreadful outing like that, they should want to come and out prove tonight they aren't as bad as the team that took to the ice at Rexall Place on Saturday.
- They have revenge on their minds. There shouldn't be any reason the Canucks won't be fired up to face the Sharks after dropping both previous meetings so far this season. But if they do need extra motivation, how about getting a chance to deal a blow to one of their top rival's playoff hopes?
- The new guys provide a spark. A lineup change might just give a jolt to a Canucks team that seems to be in desperate need of one after Saturday's lackluster effort in Edmonton. The expected season debuts of Nicklas Jensen and Bill Sweatt can, hopefully, not just breathe some much-needed life into the team but help provide a lift to an anemic offence as well.
The Sharks Win If...
- They push the pace on offence. If the Sharks happened to watch Vancouver's game on Saturday, they'll know the Canucks are a team struggling to find offence right now and a team that might not be able to keep up with them if they employ an offensive-oriented game plan. The Sharks certainly have the firepower to play a run-and-gun style and their best bet to succeed tonight might be if they open things up.
- They stay out of the box. The Sharks have a reputation for being a team that likes to throw their weight around and, more often than not, that leads to trips to the sin bin and power play opportunities for their opponents. That hasn't been the case lately, however. The Sharks have only been shorthanded a combined six times over their last four outings and, not surprisingly, they haven't allowed a power play goal in that time. But even if they do get into penalty trouble tonight as they have in the season series, they have the luxury of being able to count on their penalty kill – which is among the best in the league – to bail them out.
- They feed off the crowd. The Sharks might not be having a strong a season overall as they're accustomed to but on home ice they've been dominant. San Jose has earned at least one point in all-but-one of 16 home games (11-1-4) and come into this game having earned points in nine consecutive home outings (6-0-3). If San Jose can get their fans fired up early, perhaps by building up an early lead like they've managed to do in both previous meetings against Vancouver this season, they could make it a very long night for the Canucks.
Ones to Watch
When the Canucks selected Nicklas Jensen with the 29th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, they no doubt had high hopes that the Dane would become a big part of their future. That future appears to be now.
The 20-year-old looks poised to make his NHL debut tonight and play with his third different team this season. Jensen began the season playing for AIK in the Swedish Elite League where he notched 23 points (17-6-23) in 50 games before joining the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. With Chicago, he had four points (2-2-4) in 11 games at the time of his recent recall.
The 6'2", 202 lbs. left winger is described as a power forward with a good shot. He showed off his ability to put pucks in the net particularly during his junior days playing for the Oshawa Generals where he amassed 54 goals and 116 points in 118 games over two seasons from 2010.11 to 2011.12.
The Sharks might be in a playoff spot at the moment but that hasn't stopped the rumour mill from suggesting Dan Boyle is one of the players who could be changing addresses by this Wednesday. One look at what he could bring to a new team and it's easy to see why Boyle is so highly sought after.
The 36-year-old's point production isn't quite at the same level as it has been in years past but it has still been fairly decent. He currently leads all Sharks defensemen with five goals and 16 points in 32 games. Four of his tallies have come on the man-advantage, which is not only more than he had all of last season but puts him among the league leaders for blue-liners.
Boyle has been on a bit of a hot streak of late netting two goals and six points in his last 10 outings. He has one assist in two games played so far in the season series but also has a minus-two rating. In 23 career games versus Vancouver, he has notched three goals and 16 points.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.