It’s just a one-game road trip for the Vancouver Canucks, but it may be the most crucial one yet in San Jose against the surging Sharks.
The Vancouver Canucks are bleeding goals really badly. When a team scores five goals against Carey Price, it deserves to win. When a 33-year-old scores a hat trick against Carey Price, he deserves a win and a celebration, the hats and the spotlight.
Instead, the Montreal Canadiens leapfrogged the Canucks in the league standings with the 7-5 win in Vancouver. The Canucks called it a “step in the right direction”. They crept one step closer to the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes alright. I wouldn’t call that a step in the right direction.
It was a step to a sixth loss in the past seven games. The Canucks have no regulation wins in the last seven games they have played.
The only step in the right direction that was taken against Montreal was the step Brock Boeser‘s bruised foot took onto the ice.
Will the Sharks be able to follow up Montreal’s bashing of Vancouver? Let’s see.
2017-18 record: 15-16-4
Goals for: 93
Goals against: 111
The Canucks had that marvelous three-game winning streak at the beginning of the month that now seems months away and have taken just two of 14 available points ever since. In that span, their six losses saw them give up at least four goals every night. Even in that one home win in overtime against San Jose, they gave up three goals.
Injuries courtesy of RotoWorld: Brandon Sutter (upper body, day-to day), Bo Horvat (ankle, out six-to-eight weeks), Chris Tanev (groin, out two-three weeks), Sven Baertschi (broken jaw, out four-to-six weeks).
Who’s on offence
Thomas Vanek was a force against Montreal, scoring a hat trick despite facing the great Carey Price. The Sedins continue adding to their point totals regardless of who they play with, likewise for our great Brock Boeser. That’s actually it for offence, to be honest.
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Who’s on defence
In short, nobody’s on defence. The Canucks have had a miserable time without Tanev and the return of Erik Gudbranson has not made things much better. At this point, Derrick Pouliot and Alex Edler are the Canucks’ top defencemen, with Alex Biega not too far behind.
*lineups courtesy of Daily Faceoff
San Jose Sharks
2017-18 record: 17-11-4
Goals for: 88
Goals against: 80
After a hot stretch over the first couple of weeks in November, the Sharks have been a .500 team currently on a two-game losing streak. They have had two full days of rest after their last game in Edmonton.
Who’s on offence
Without Logan Couture, the Sharks’ biggest threat to the Canucks are Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl, alongside Joe Pavelski. Although no San Jose player has more than eight goals aside from Couture, Hertl especially has shown to be particularly effective against the Canucks. He has 15 points in 21 games against Vancouver. His seven goals and eight assists against the Canucks are the most he has against any team in the NHL.
Who’s on defence
Brent Burns, as he always is and as Vancouver could see the last game against the Sharks, is never to be taken lightly. After Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun lead the way in TOI and in points.
What Vancouver needs to do
For all the talk there was at the beginning of the season about letting in easy goals at the beginning of the games, the Canucks have been pretty good in the first two periods of every game they have played in lately. The score really widened in the third period, though. So the goal would be to keep the game close to the end or to open up a lead early in the game.
Lately, the Canucks have been victimized by high-slot tips from the point. With Gudbranson back and Biega on the watch, the Canucks should look to clear the shooting lanes for Markstrom so he doesn’t have to worry about deflections, even the weird ones.
Jaws is a better movie than Free Willy, and the Sharks are simply a more balanced team right now. The Canucks don’t have the star power to keep up with the speedy Sharks, who swim away from the hungry whales.
Because Jaws really is better than Free Willy. Free Willie, on the other hand, is what the Canucks need to do. More specifically, Travis Green needs to check his inner Willie. Put his best lineup out there: get Loui back with the twins, unite Goldy and Boucher with Granlund in the middle, and put Boeser with literally anyone because he can score in every situation. But I don’t think Green is ready to do that, so I give this one to Jaws.
Canucks need to stop giving up 5 goals. Goaltending has let them down recently, but the whole team does not look good defensively. Brent Burns had an excellent game against Vancouver and expect to see him do it again. Brock Boeser will score and not a lot else after that.