The San Jose Sharks (4-0-0) take on the Vancouver Canucks (2-1-1) in the second game of a back-to-back. San Jose had arguably their most complete game of the season playing well in all three periods and taking home the victory while the Canucks defeated Anaheim 5-0 on Friday evening.
San Jose is looking to stay undefeated and is one of three teams left that can brag about that accolade. The other two teams are the New Jersey Devils and the Chicago Blackhawks who are 5-0-0.
As expected the Canucks are led offensively by their twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin who have 6 and 4 points respectively. Daniel has 2 goals and 4 assists while Henrik has 4 assists this season. Alexander Edler has also tallied 2 goals and 2 assists this season leading the team for defensemen.
Goaltender Cory Schneider had a rough outing in the first start of the season but since then has settled down quite a bit. After playing ‘second fiddle’ to Roberto Luongo for a few years he is now starting goalie for the Canucks and so far this season he has a 2.78 goals against average and a .913 save percentage stopping 73 out of 80 shots faced. Also included was his shutout he posted on Friday.
For the Sharks its been all about offense. Patrick Marleau continues to be red-hot and so are his linemates. Marleau now has 4 consecutive multi-goal games to start the season and is only the 2nd player in NHL history to do so. The last time it happened was in the 1917-18 season when Cy Denneny did it for the Ottawa Senators.
While the top line has been clicking on all cyliders the second line has been doing well too. The Clowe-Couture-Havlat line has a total of 14 points in the first 4 games of the season with Logan Couture leading the way netting 3 goals and adding 4 helpers for 7 total points. It’s also great to see Martin Havlat have a pretty good start (2 goals, 2 assists) considering all his struggles last year.
Things to Watch For
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Penalty killing, penalty killing, penalty killing. Last night was the first time this season the Sharks held an opponent without a power play goal, so it’s getting better. There were still times that made me nervous, but they stood strong in their 2 penalty killing opportunites and proved to be pivotal to the strong start. With that being said Vancouver has a much more lethal power play than the Avalanche so staying disciplined with a man down will be key. If they don’t the Canucks could have more than one power play goal on the night.
Todd McClellan definitely did not ease Scott Gomez into the game as much as I thought he would. Instead he was put out on the ice for over 15 minutes, which is a pretty significant amount considering he was on the 4th line. Part of that did have to do with the fact that he was on the power play unit and San Jose had 6 opportunities, but either way Gomez looked pretty good and he’s a guy to watch to see how he continues to develope chemistry with the team.