The San Jose Sharks are going to be one of the best teams in hockey this season and will probably win the Pacific Division. Like the Vancouver Canucks, they had tonnes of regular season success between lockouts. Like the Vancouver Canucks, they won an infinite number of Presidents’ Trophies more than Stanley Cups during that span. Unlike the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks landed two exceptional talents out of the Entry Draft and have been able to rebuild on the fly.
Also, there’s rumblings about a third draftee. Maybe you’ve heard about him, if you’d watched Sportscentre or Connected this week, turned on a radio or done so much as boot up your computer. Yes, unless you have been sitting on the couch staring at a blank TV screen for the last two days, or been comatose, you have heard about Tomas Hertl.
He’s Czech, he’s young, he’s cute, he smiles a lot, this is dream, he has a punnable name, and he inspired the greatest hockey quote of the modern era from Joe Thornton, who explained in explicit detail what he would do if he had scored four goals in a game. (Brent Burns said something similar. What is it with Hertl that makes grown men want to show off their goods?)
Hertl scored four against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. While most of the hockey world was ready to fall asleep after watching an entertaining affair pitting Roberto Luongo against Corey Schneider, there was that plucky Czech. He just NEEDED the headlines.
Puck Drop: 7 PM PT
Radio: Team 1040
Here’s a special video presentation to the hospital patients and shut-ins, the pensioners, and the recently-awakened-from-a-coma:
Pretty cool, at the very least. Yes, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Sharks right now, and not least because they’re 3-0 and leading the Pacific. They’ve out-scored their opposition 17-4, have an early Corsi Close rate of 60.1% and have out-shot their opponents 99-52 at even strength.
They had a pretty good homestand to open the season, is what I’m saying. Of all the teams they played, the Canucks were probably the closest to beating them. Vancouver miraculously held the Sharks powerplay off the board. That’s the powerplay that scored this goal against Phoenix:
Pretty much, how I intend to set this game up is that the Sharks look like an unstoppable juggernaut so far through the season. Vancouver has a chance to stop them.
All in favour of calling the Hertl-Thornton-Burns line the “TV-MA” line? The Sharks boast a ridiculously deep lineup, with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels on the third line. Fourth line boasts two former first round picks cast off from their original teams. Those players tend to be good hockey players.
The noteworthy change is that Brad Stuart was suspended for three games for this hit on Rick Nash. Stuart and Scott Hannan are interchangeable veteran (old) defencemen. Antti Niemi should get the start.
For the Canucks, it looks like Mike Santorelli is at least going to start the game with the Sedin twins, seeing as that’s where he finished the last time around. In 14:52 with Santorelli this season, Henrik Sedin is a 74.1% Corsi, which probably shouldn’t last. Santorelli has three goals on the year already including two in overtime and he’s already become a bit of a redemption story. He scored 2 goals in all of last season’s 34 games. It is worth noting that his 50% shooting percentage is completely and entirely unsustainable.
John Tortorella had the American Express line rolling together in the first half of the game against the Devils, although he relegated David Booth to the third line when he flipped Santorelli and Jannik Hansen’s spots in the lineup. Hansen will probably start with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins. Booth, Brad Richardson and and Dale Weise actually looked pretty good against the Devils—with Richardson on the ice the Canucks out-shot 8-3 and out-Corsi’d 10-6. That was despite 9 defensive zone starts.
Does it matter who is on the fourth line? Has anybody actually seen video evidence of Zac Dalpe playing a shift yet? He was ineffective as a depth centreman in Carolina and has some chance to succeed as a regular winger. To me, Dalpe should be with Richardson and Booth playing wing. It’s not like Torts is using Dalpe for faceoff duties anyway.
|Fenwick Tied %||54.6%||62.9%|
GAME DAY LINKS
- Stan Smyl named director of player development [CDC] (Wait, he wasn’t already?)
- Hertl haiku [Canucks Hockey Blog]
- I think I’m gonna Hertl [Nucks Misconduct]
- David Booth brings something ‘different’ to Canucks [Vancouver Sun]
- This link is essentially Larry Brooks calling for Alain Vigneault’s head [NY Post Schaudenfreude section]
Quick Start on the Sharks – Vancouver must score the first goal and win. Internalize that the team that scores first usually wins about 70% of NHL games. This pays out $2.50 per dollar bet, which is quite tempting. I don’t believe in players or teams being “due” but they’re going to have to beat the Sharks eventually, right?
D-Men Chipping In – This pays $4 on a $1 bet. Jason Garrison or Alex Edler must score a goal in a victory. The odds may not be good for this one. Edler scores in about 10% of his career games and Garrison in about 13% of his. You’d want the combined percentage to be a little over 25%, to factor in that the Canucks need a victory to win the bet as well. Side-note: I’m sure by now you all know that Dimitri and I have a bet on whether Jason Garrison will finish the year above or below 14.5 goals. I have the “under” on this one, and had a few nervous hours before they changed the OT winner in the game against the Devils to Santorelli. I could go without those scares for a week or so, thanks.
Be sure to sign up with the Canucks Army promo code “CANUCKSARMY” to receive $25 worth of free bets.