GDR: WCF Gm 2 – Sharks @ Canucks

Aw look. Hanky Panky and Keslord are total besties now. Cuuuuute!
Maybe Daniel will get jealous and score 5 goals to win back his brother’s affection.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Western Conference Final Game 2 – Sharks @ Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead tonight as they host the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

In Game 1, the Canucks used their most potent weapon to overpower the Sharks in the third period – their team speed.

And they may be bringing more speed for Game 2.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 6:00 PM PT

TV: CBC Radio: Team1040

The Intel

As Game 1 wore on, the Canucks speed willed out. And the effects of a grueling 7-game series against the Red Wings took its toll on the Sharks. With 2 days off between games, the Sharks get some much needed rest, but that doesn’t help them get any faster as a team. And the Canucks used the same game plan against the Sharks in Game 1 as they did against Chicago in Game 1 of their opening round series – hit everything in an opposing jersey. The Canucks racked up 38 hits against the Sharks and wore them down. Hits and speed. Good recipe to beat a big, lumbering team that likes to grind out a game in the corners and against the boards.

The Canucks need that again and more for Game 2. As a result, it looks as though Alain Vigneault is likely bringing back Jeff Tambellini into the lineup, at the expense of Tanner Glass. Glass has not been a factor in the playoffs yet while Tambellini, in less than 5 minutes of TOI these playoffs, made one of the Canucks’ most memorable plays, sprinting back to catch Martin Erat, who was 40 feet ahead of him on a breakaway, knocking him off the puck and saving a goal. Even though Tamby will only see fourth minutes (less than 6 minutes probably), any additional speed he can bring will be an added bonus against these slower Sharks.

As for the Sharks, it looks like Jason Demers may be out again for Game 2. While he isn’t a #1 defenseman, Demers has played decently these playoffs, and moves the puck well. Kent Huskins, who drew in to the lineup in Demers’ place, hadn’t played since February and is a noticeable step down in terms of puck-moving ability and mobility on the blue line, something the Sharks need to counteract the speedy Canucks forechecking. If Demers is available, and Huskins does come out, the Sharks have to consider that an upgrade on their back end, as they will up their ability to move pucks up ice and to keep up with the Canucks’ forwards.

The Sharks have said that they’re going to come out stronger physically in Game 2, hitting and playing the body more. I find this funny, because according to the Sharks, the Canucks go down like they’ve been shot every time they’re touched. So if they’re such rampant divers and embellishers, why would you play them so physically, giving them a chance to slap on their bathing suits to go all Greg Lougainis on the ice or let them snap their heads back faster than the top of a Pez dispenser?

In any event, the big, bad pouty Sharks are gonna come out a-hittin’. And the Canucks had better be on their toes. The Sharks are going to do whatever they can to play this game at half-tempo, and hitting is a big element of that. The more the Canucks can keep the pace up in this game, the better. And if the Sharks come within 5 feet of them, just crumple to ice clutching your legs like they’ve been cut off with a chainsaw.

Oh wait, it’s Joe Thornton who does that.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

1. Keep skating. As I just said, the more pace there is to tonight’s game, the better it is for the Canucks. As the Canucks continue to keep the speed of the game at their preferred higher tempo, the Sharks’ D will start chasing and will have a more difficult time clearing their own zone, keeping the puck deep.

2. Go upstairs on Niemi. He plays really well down low on the ice. No better evidence was the ridiculous scramble in his goal mouth near the end of the second period of game 1. Get the puck off the ice on Niemi.

3. Forecheck, forecheck, forecheck. Pressure on the Sharks’ D was a key factor in Game 1. If the Canucks keep it up for Game 2, they’ll force the Sharks to play in their own end, which they just don’t like to do, or do well.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

1. Tale of the Tape: Sharks @ Canucks (

2. The 3.0 version of the Canucks seems much better equipped — and that includes gamesmanship (The Province)

3. Canucks expect Sharks to bite back in Game 2 (Vancouver Sun)

4. Canucks/Sharks Preview (Yahoo! Sports)

5. Sharks Gameday: You Just Crossed Over Into…The Neutral Zone (Fear The Fin) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMT HAS TO SAY!