Sharks Battle Struggling Canucks: Game Preview


Jan 27, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) defends the shot by Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36) during the first period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks (10-6-4) take on the Vancouver Canucks (11-6-4) at the Rogers Arena this evening.  San Jose seems to have gotten their feet back under them after a successful home stand which was a nice rebound from that very bad six-game road trip.

The Canucks have lost three of their last four games including in Calgary on Sunday where they lost 4-2.

This will be the second matchup between the two teams this season.  The Sharks got the better of the Canucks in the first meeting by taking the 4-1 win at HP Pavillion which occurred during San Jose’s red-hot start to the season.

Vancouver is led by none other than the Sedin twins Daniel and Henrik, each of whom have a team-leading 21 points.  Daniel leads the team with eight goals to go with his 13 assists while Henrik has a team-leading 18 assists to go along with his three goals.

Those 18 assists tie him for fourth in the league along with San Jose’s Joe Thornton and a couple others.  Henrik also boasts a +13 rating on the season, which is good enough to crack the top ten in the league.

For the San Jose Sharks, things have gotten much better and the three-game home stand seemed to have given the team what they need to get back on the winning track.  They picked up five out of a possible six points during those three games and their only loss came in a shootout.

Heating up for San Jose is young forward Logan Couture who has two goals and two assists in his last three games.  On the season he has eight goals and eight assists and is tied for third place with Joe Pavelski for points on the team with 16.  Pavelski has seven goals and nine assists this season.

Meanwhile Joe Thornton is on a streak of his own tallying at least an assists in his last five games.  He has six total over that span.  As I stated earlier, his 18 total assists has him tied with a few others for fourth best in the league.  He also leads the team with 22 total points.

In net tonight will be one of the best goaltenders in the league in Antti Niemi.  He has been getting better as the season wears on even when the offense has struggled.  He is now ranked third in both key goaltending categories posting a 1.83 goals against average and a .934 save percentage.  His win total could be much higher, but again a struggling offense has hampered that.

If he keeps this up San Jose could be a force to be reckoned with, especially if they can win games while having to only score a couple goals a night.  It is not ideal, but certainly something for opponents to think about.