(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Game Day Recon #47 – Sharks @ Canucks
After a lacklustre 5-game road trip that saw the Canucks go 2-2-1, they return home to the friendly confines of Rogers Arena for some much needed home cooking.
Cooking? Did someone say cooking? Yes, Kyle Wellwood returns to Vancouver as the newest member of the San Jose Sharks.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
Sure, the Vancouver Canucks have cooled down lately, but not as much as the San Jose Sharks. Yes, the Sharks have won two in a row but before than the Sharks were 2-6-0 in their previous eight, and dropped to as low as 13th spot in the Western Conference standings. While the Canucks’ tepid play of late cost them a couple of win, their play through the previous 21 games helped them stay afloat. Despite their cool-down, the Canucks remain on top of the Western Conference by 3 points, and on top of the Northwest Division by 11 points.
Secondary scoring is starting to become a concern for the Canucks. Rather, the fact that their secondary scoring as dried up in the last 10 games or so. Players like Burrows, Raymond, Tambellini, Malhotra, Torres and Samuelsson have to start providing some consistent offense. Not all of them on he same night, but each of them has to start putting the puck in the net. As Jeff Paterson points out, Alex Burrows had 15 goals last January alone. At his current pace, he is projected to only score 16 goals this season. That’s just not acceptable. Granted, he had a ridiculous campaign last year, but we all know that Burrows can score more than 16 goals, despite missing 10 games to start the year.
As for the Sharks, it’s almost like it’s two teams on the ice. They have their top 6 forwards and top D man in Danny Boyle, and then there’s everyone else. And their goaltending simply isn’t helping them at all. Where the Sharks are really struggling is in the 3rd period, where they are -14 in GF to GA. So the Canucks, who have been a dominant 3rd period team all year, and in recent previous years, need to get their game rolling through all three periods tonight and add to the Sharks’ bleeding.
And how do the Sharks think that they will solve their bleeding? By adding Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood. Yes, that’s right. The Sharks biggest problem this year is keeping the puck out of the net and playing sounds defensively… so they added Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood. If you can’t tell, I’m laughing from the other side of my keyboard right now. Now that said, while it sounds ridiculous, it’s not a bad move actually. Eager had the third lowest GA/60min on the Thrashers this season, at 1.93. That would put him in the top 5 on the Sharks too.
But then again, the Sharks consistency to score even-strength has really hurt them. Their top producer at even strength would even crack the top 10 on the Canucks Ryan Clowe has a GFON/60 of 2.77, meaning that the Sharks score 2.77 even strength goals when Clowe is on the ice over 60 full minutes of playing time. For that same stat, the Canucks have 7 players above 3.00.
So what do the Sharks do? They claim Kyle Wellwood off of waivers. Problem solved! So why is that ridiculous? Because last year for the Canucks, Wellwood had a GFON/60 average of 1.98, 5th worst on the team. Hell, even AARON ROME had a better number than he did.
I know this GFON/60 stat is a bit low-level, so let’s just give you an easier one. The Sharks are 24th in GF at 5-on-5. So, although I will list my three keys in a second, the BIG KEY for the Canucks is to dominate at 5-on-5 tonight.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Shut down the top 6. The Sharks top 6 forwards all have over 30 points. That’s is terrific for a team out of the playoff right now. However, after their top 6, Setoguchi has 15 points, and nobody else has more than 8 points. So if the Canucks can play sound defensively and take care of business in their own end, they’ll likely come out on top tonight.
2. Pour it on. The Canucks have outscored the Sharks 10-4 in their two meetings this year, winning 6-1 and 4-3. Hopefully the Canucks will use the spirit of the home crowd to get their scoring touch back, something they lost temporarily on their road trip. The Canucks scored only 11 goals over their five game road trip, and were shut out twice. The two games that they won., they scored 4 goals. They’ve scored at least 4 goals in each game against the Sharks this year and haven’t lost. Do you see the trend?
3. Get back their consistent effort. Not just tonight. On their 5-game road trip, the Canucks scored 4 (including the SO winner) to win, then were shut out. Then they scored 4 to win, then were shut out. Then they scored 3 which wasn’t quite enough. And really their only really exceptional game was the win against Washington. The Canucks need to get back to the consistency that rocketed them to the top of the standings. A consistent, 60-minute effort with consistent dependable goaltending would help get that kickstarted on this 4-game home stand.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Avalanche (canucks.com)
2. All’s well with Welly (The Province)
3. New Sharks center faces former team (San Jose Mercury News)
4. Sharks at Canucks Game Trax (MSN Foxsports)
5. Canucks/Sharks Preview (CBS Sports/AP)