Sharks @ Canucks Game Day Preview - 5/1/2013
Western Conference Quarterfinal Game One
#6 San Jose Sharks (25-16-7) at #3 Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7)
Game 1 at 7:30pm (PST) Wednesday May 1 in Vancouver at Rogers Arena
Please note all games will be carried LIVE locally on CSNCA-HD / 98.5-102.1 FM KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network (all games listed PST)
Wed., May 1 GAME 1 @ Vancouver 7:30pm
Fri., May 3 GAME 2 @ Vancouver 7pm
Sun., May 5 GAME 3 @ San Jose 7pm
Tue., May 7 GAME 4 @ San Jose 7pm
*Thur., May 9 GAME 5 @ Vancouver TBD
*Sat., May 11 GAME 6 @ San Jose TBD
*Mon., May 13 GAME 7 @ Vancouver TBD
"It's a tough city to play in," said Antti Niemi about Vancouver. "We lost two years ago and remembering those games, they were a little lucky, they got a few lucky goals. Hopefully, we'll get a few bounces this time."
The San Jose Sharks face the #3 seed Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 in the best of seven Western Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series in Vancouver on Wednesday at 7:30pm (PST). This will be the 29th playoff series in franchise history for the Sharks (13-15) and the 2nd playoff series meeting vs. the Vancouver Canucks.
Previous Playoff Series/Action vs. the Canucks:
2011 Western Conference Final – the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks defeated the #2 seed San Jose Sharks 4-1. (Dan Boyle had the GWG in Game 3 in the Sharks only win of the series)
The Sharks head into the playoffs with the best regular season home record in the NHL (17-2-5) but had the fewest points on the road (8-14-2) out of the 16 playoff bound teams. Like the Sharks, the Canucks dropped their final two games of the regular season and were 5-4-1 in their last ten games overall.
San Jose swept the three game regular season series (3-0-0) vs. Vancouver outscoring the Canucks 10-5. Antti Niemi was 3-0-0 vs. the Canucks with a 1.63 GAA and an impressive .943 save % in the three games. Joe Thornton led all Sharks players with four points (2-2-4) and Joe Pavelski added two game winning goals vs. the Canucks. Jannik Hansen led the Canucks with four points (1-3-4) and Alex Burrows had three points (2-1-3) to lead the way offensively for Vancouver. Cory Schneider started all three games vs. the Sharks (0-2-1) with a 2.94 GAA and a .902 save %. San Jose was 3-14 on the PP (21.4%), a perfect 12-12 on the PK, and led the way vs. the Canucks in the faceoff circle 114W-77L (59.7%).
San Jose is 41-42-9-5 all-time in the regular season vs. the Canucks.
Click HERE to watch highlights from the three game season series on Sharks TV!
Sharks vs. Canucks matchups to look for:
Niemi vs. ?:
We all know the MVP style season Niemi had in between the pipes for the San Jose Sharks this season… but there is a question on who will start Game 1 for the Canucks. Cory Schneider carried the majority of the work load in the regular season and was superb (19-9-4, 2.11, .927) but was injured (undisclosed) at the tail end. If Schneider cannot go on Wednesday, Roberto Luongo (9-6-3, 2.56 .907) will get the start vs. Niemi.
San Jose and their 8th ranked PP (20.1%) will need to get things rolling offensively for the Sharks but must do so against the Canucks penalty kill which ranked 8th in the NHL at 84.0%. The Sharks went 3-for-14 (21.4%) vs. the Canucks on the PP during the regular season while Vancouver converted 0-for-12 (00.0%) on the PP vs. the Sharks.
The Sharks had six players (Thornton, Couture, Marleau, Pavelski, Burns, and Boyle) record at least 20 points this season for a well balanced attack while the Canucks had eight players (Sedin, Sedin, Roy, Hansen, Burrows, Hamhuis, Raymond, and Edler) reach 20+ points. The key to the series will be the secondary scoring from the 3rd and 4th lines. If the Sharks can grab goals from the likes of Wingels, Galiardi, Havlat, Desjardins and others in a timely fashion… they will be in good shape vs. the high flying Canucks.
San Jose is as healthy as they have been all season with Martin Havlat back after missing a pair of games. Defenseman Jason Demers has not skated the last few days and is day-to-day. Goaltender Cory Schneider is questionable for the Canucks as he has been dealing with an undisclosed “body” injury.
Shark Bites: (interesting tidbits heading into Game 1)
*Game 1… the Sharks have a 14-14 record all time in Game 1’s of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 8-7 record on the road during Game 1.
In the 14 Game 1 Wins… the Sharks went on to win 9 of the 14 series (64.2%)
In the 14 Game 1 Loses… the Sharks went on to win 4 of the 14 series (28.5%)
*5 Cup winners… the Sharks have five players on their roster that have won the Stanley Cup (Gomez in 2000 and 2003 with NJ, Stuart in 2008 with DET, Boyle in 2004 with TB, Burish and Niemi in 2010 with CHI)
*130… Patrick Marleau is set to dress in his franchise leading 130th playoff game for the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 at Vancouver. (Joe Thornton is 3rd all-time and will dress in his 80th playoff game for San Jose.)
*Joe loves the Spring… Joe Pavelski has 38 points (20-18-38) and seven game winning goals in 63 career playoff games with the San Jose Sharks.
*Niemi vs. the Canucks… Antti Niemi is 5-6-0 with a 3.34 GAA in 11 career playoff games vs. Vancouver (with San Jose and Chicago).
*Almost There… Henrik Sedin ranks 2nd in Canucks playoff history with 71 points (22-49-71) in 95 games… trailing only Trevor Linden (95pts in 118gp).
*Not him again… Henrik killed the Sharks in the 2011 playoffs recording a series high 12 points (1-11-12) in just five games.
*Close Behind… Daniel Sedin ranks 4th in Canucks playoff history with 64 points (22-41-64) in 92 games…. And his 10 power play goals is 2nd most in franchise history.
*2 behind Kirk… goaltender Roberto Luongo (32 wins) is just two wins behind Kirk McLean for the franchise record for most wins. McLean had 34 wins in 1988-96.
What they are saying:
"Anytime you play the Canucks…there isn’t any love lost,” said Adam Burish. “Naturally emotions flow and take over and you play on the edge… that’s when we are dangerous…. And the skill takes over from there. Vancouver brings out the best in us. Guys are excited about this matchup.”
"Obviously, the window's closing …for sure," said winger Alex Burrows, referring to the core group's Stanley Cup opportunity. "We've been successful the last few years, getting into the playoffs and taking a run at it a couple years ago. But we know that it takes a lot of work to make that run."
At the end of the day, Game 1 is not do or die for the San Jose Sharks as their past would dictate. However, it would certainly be nice to get a W on Wednesday night. The Sharks need to play with emotion right from the get-go and do the little things well (don’t turn puck over, work hard in the corners, strong on face-offs, and get good looks on PP) they are going to win this series. Expect a long series. Drop the puck already! Go Sharks!
SHARKS (25-16-7) at CANUCKS (26-15-7)TV: CBC, NCBSN
Last 10: San Jose 5-5-0; Vancouver 5-4-1
Season series: The San Jose Sharks swept the three-game series, starting at home with a 4-1 thumping of the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 27 that was part of seven straight wins to open the season. The next two were at least closer, with San Jose winning 3-2 in a shootout in Vancouver on March 5 and 3-2 in regulation at home on April 1.
Big story: These two teams met in the Western Conference Finals two years ago, and the series was much closer than Vancouver's five-game victory would indicate. The Canucks won Game 4 by scoring a postseason record three 5-on-3 goals, then clinched the series on a double overtime goal no one saw, converting a strange bounce off a stanchion in the glass that fooled everyone. Several San Jose players have talked since about being the better team and thinking they should have won that series. Now they get a chance to prove it.
Canucks: Outside of whether or not Cory Schneider will be healthy enough to play goal, the biggest question facing the Canucks is whether their power play can keep rolling in the playoffs. It was crucial to beating the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals two years ago, and a big part of losing all three games to them this regular season, going 0-for-12 and giving up a shorthanded goal in the first two games before not even getting a chance in the third meeting.
The last two meetings were part of a decade-worst slump that included just two power-play goals in 20 games as Vancouver fell to the bottom of the NHL rankings. The Canucks have been better of late, however, scoring 10 times with the man advantage in the final 12 games while converting 25 percent of their opportunities -- almost double their success rate before that streak.
Having Kesler, who was out with injury for all three games against the Sharks, back as a shoot-first, right-shot option opposite the pass-first Sedin twins has made a big difference, and the Canucks need it to continue in this series.
Sharks: Just as the Canucks didn't have Kesler when they played San Jose this season, the Sharks are also a different team since sweeping the series, actually improving after trading away key players like defenseman Douglas Murray and power forward Ryane Clowe before the NHL Trade Deadline. They are faster and deeper since then, spreading the offense over four lines by splitting up Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, moving defenseman Brent Burns up front as a top-line power forward, and dropping Joe Pavelski back to center a third line.
The newfound depth was enough to have the Canucks switching up their own lines in practice leading into the series, spreading out their top centers over three lines rather than using both Kesler and trade-deadline addition Derek Roy on a loaded second line. Whether the lines stay that way remains to be seen, but it's clear these aren't the same teams that met in the regular season.
Who's hot: For the Canucks, there aren't a lot of individual scoring streaks after dropping the final two games of the regular season, but Schneider had won eight straight at home before missing the final two games with a minor injury, which is key given the importance of keeping home-ice advantage against a Sharks team that was 17-2-5 at HP Pavilion. … For the Sharks, Logan Couture has four goals and three assists in his past five games, part of a season-long scoring surge that has seen him emerge as a leader in San Jose.