November 14 2013 02:19PM
Joe Thornton returns to the scene of the crime.
Thursday night's meeting will mark the 8th time in the last 25 games (including the playoffs) that the Canucks will have played the San Jose Sharks, which is relevant, because it helps put things in perspective. The Sharks are unquestionably one of the league's elite teams, and I'm sure that the Canucks will appreciate not having to play them nearly every 3rd game for the remainder of the season.
I also appreciate that this is the (4th and) final time these two teams will meet over the course of the next handful of months because quite frankly I'm running out of interesting things to say in my coverage of their games. Leading up to this meeting we won't have to hear about the tired storyline of how many times in a row the Canucks have lost to the Sharks after having slayed the dragon a week ago, but I'm sure all of the Joe Thornton #ROOSTERWATCH jokes will more than make up for it.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PDT
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Vancouver
It has been nearly 4 days since we've seen the Canucks in game action, so I've attached a nice little visual image of what the lines will look like based on yesterday's practice [via Daily Faceoff]. There's a few changes, so we actually have something to talk about:
First off, welcome back David Booth. After having basically missed the past 10 games, the much maligned winger is expected to be on the 3rd line in his return which is kind of a big deal. We'd seen Tom Sestito play the role of 3LW over the better part of the past two games, and regardless of how you feel about Booth, there's no question that he's a massive upgrade on that front.
I actually think this top-9 as currently constructed looks real good, especially if the 2nd line keeps crushing it. With that being said, Jannik Hansen could very well be back within the next game or two so don't get too comfortable with this arrangement, but that's a good problem to have.
Before they manhandled the Flames en route to an overtime victory a few days ago, the Sharks had failed to get the two points in 5 consecutive games (though 4 of those losses were of the OT/SO variety). A slight hiccup for a team that had come out guns a blazin' over the first few weeks of the season. They're still a dominant possession team, they're scoring at a high rate, their power play is obscene, and they draw a ton of penalties.. which is a long form way of saying that they're still good.
Last time out we saw the Sedin line go up against Couture's, but the key was Santorelli and Co. being able to hang with Jumbo Joe's unit (..). That's big. I'm talking about the 2nd line's performance, and not Joe Thornton's unit, of course. Luckily for the Canucks Brent Burns is more than likely out yet again, though by all accounts he's expected to be back in the lineup soon.
One final thing: Antti Niemi has given up 4 goals in 4 of his past 5 appearances, and was pulled last Thursday after a rather dreadful performance. With that being said.. he has had a few days off - which is probably relevant since he gets as much work as any goalie in the league - and had shutouts in 2 of the 3 games prior to this rough stretch.
THE NUMBERS GAME
|Corsi Close %||55.0% (5th)||52.6% (8th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.98 (3rd)||2.52 (8th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.06 (10th)||2.26 (18th)|
|PDO||100.6 (10th)||99.7 (16th)|
|5v4 GF/60||8.50 (3rd)||3.02 (28th)|
|5v4 SF/60||71.5 (1st)||64.1 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.44 (4th)||3.34 (2nd)|
|4v5 SA/60||51.8 (17th)||45.6 (5th)|
GAME DAY LINKS
- We've gone ahead and relaunched our podcast, making it better than ever! [via Canucks Army]
- Players like the idea of killing the shootout. Of course they do. [via Jim Jamieson]
- Yannick Weber provides some interesting quotes about the team's power play. [via Tony Gallagher]
- 20 Questions after 20 Games. [via Jeff Paterson]
Sniping on the Sharks - If the Canucks score a goal in all 3 periods en route to a win, you get $6.50 for every $1 you wager. That seems.. foolhardy. But the odds are fairly lofty, so if you're feeling lucky, then I guess you could take a shot in the dark here?
Breaking the Blank - Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows have fired a combined 65 shots on goal without getting one by the opposing 'tender. If you believe one of them breaks that streak tonight, and the Canucks wind up winning, you are getting 3.50-to-1 odds. I personally like this one bet much better than the one above.
Be sure to sign up with the Canucks Army promo code "CANUCKSARMY" to receive $25 worth of free bets.