The NHL preseason is for two things: using small sample sizes to convince people that the assertions you made over the summer are correct, or defending your assertions made over the summer because of a small sample size.
This was the first time that the Vancouver Canucks have played a hockey game since May, and it was against San Jose again, who returned to Vancouver without Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Antti Niemi, several other of their stars, and no tail stripes or shoulder yokes on their sweaters. If the preseason has any modicum of importance, it’s probably in the field of uniform aesthetics, and I don’t like how plain the Sharks new white sweaters are. They looked like the old threads ditched by the Dallas Stars when they flipped to a more traditional design. With teal, silver and orange in the scheme, the Sharks had one of the truly unique colour combinations in pro sports, but they always wore their dull black sweaters in the playoffs.
Wait, there was a hockey game, wasn’t there?
I found the game moderately enjoyable. The congress of Utica Comets in Vancouver Canucks sweaters got outplayed for the most part by the Worcester Sharks disguised as San Jose Sharks. There weren’t enough NHLers on either side to really come up with any legitimate conclusion from this game, of course. It’s easy to point out that the Canucks blocked 21 shots to San Jose’s 10, but that probably happened because San Jose took a lot of shots in general, led by Joe Pavelski, the best player on the ice for either team, and not because the Canucks had a specific gameplan to block a lot of shots.
San Jose won 3-2, but I think you already knew that. Tommy Wingels finally cracked the Canucks’ penalty kill late in the third period on a deflection that eluded everybody in front of the net. Pavelski took the shot and his stick broke. That was the only powerplay goal the Sharks scored on their 9:38 of powerplay time, which looks OKAY I guess, until you realize that the Sharks also generated 9 shots in 6:30 of 5-on-4 time.
The Canucks had a powerplay late to attempt to tie the game for a third time but didn’t really generate much. Just goes to show what kind of game this was, when Dale Weise was the guy that touched the puck the closest to the net. He then crashed into the boards and failed to get a shot away. Weise was just one of two Canuck forwards in the game that played half the season last year (the other being Alex Burrows)
Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk scored the Canucks’ goals. Gaunce scored off of a rebound from Weise, and Shinkaruk scored on a pretty good short-side wrist shot that San Jose goaltender Alex Stalock probably should have had. I’m not going to pretend either Gaunce or Shinkaruk were all over the puck, but they didn’t look out of place in a game full of professional hockey players, which I suppose is a good thing.
Shinkaruk’s goal, ICYMI:
Ryan Kesler played 26:26. Considering he played 414 minutes last season total, I’m not going to go overboard and suggest John Tortorella is going to overplay him, especially considering Torts wasn’t behind the bench. I think there’s a way to work Kesler up into game shape and play him in a bunch of situations.
Lots of penalty kill time for the Canucks. nine shots on 6:30 of 5-on-4 looks bad, but two shots against 2:58 of the Sharks deadly 5-on-3 powerplay looks good on the record. I really don’t have a point to make with this, but the Canucks looked particularly good on that late extended 5-on-4 with the Andrew Alberts high stick and later Henrik Tommernes high stick. Defencemen should learn to keep their sticks down.
Alberts also lost “Big” John McCarthy behind the net in the play leading up to the Sharks second goal. Say what you want about his game tonight, but he’s going to look a lot better playing for $600K as a seventh defenceman than for $1.23M as a seventh defenceman. I’m unsure about Yannick Weber, but he didn’t exactly look great in any situation tonight. But who knows. Nobody really did. It was one game.
Canucks’ goaltending was fine. Eddie Lack made some big stops and Joe Cannata made a nice one off of Tomas Hertl on a breakaway in the third and on Pavelski on the 5-on-3. Lack’s big moments came midway through the second, robbing Matt Tennyson, whoever he is, moving to his left, and scrambled to grab an Adam Burish shot that was reminiscent of the right bumper shot from the EA NHL series. He poked at it and scrambled into position to cover the puck. He looked pretty cool, but a few preseason games is not the place to judge a goalie. Lack will be the backup, and it won’t be because of anything that happens in the next two weeks.
This isn’t a detailed recap, and it came late, but these were my overall impressions. I don’t want to say anything for certain based on a preseason game, except that I don’t really like San Jose’s new white jerseys. Perhaps the teals will look better. Perhaps the Canucks will look better in the next two weeks.