The Vancouver Canucks will take on a San Jose Sharks team that has generally flattened them when the two sides have met in recent years.
Both clubs are aging and for years were perennially among the league’s elite. Where the Canucks appear to have gelled this season though, the Sharks are awash in dysfunction and seem likely to miss the postseason. Should San Jose lose tonight, their outlook will get rather bleak, so expect a desperate team. Expect a tired one also, as the Sharks shutout the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Northern California last night.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m PST
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
Radio: TSN 1040
Lineups courtesy dailyfaceoff.com.
The Frank Corrado recall has Dailyfaceoff somewhat confused, but he’ll be in the lineup and will presumably slot in on Luca Sbisa’s right side. Other than Corrado replacing Biega, Vancouver’s lines will be unchanged.
In goal Jacob Markstrom will make his first NHL start of the season. Lack has struggled a bit of late, so we’ll have to see if Markstrom can make Willie Desjardins’ decisions in net somewhat complicated with a solid outing on Tuesday night.
Thankfully the Sharks are still committed to playing Brent Burns on defense, where he’s significantly less effective. Otherwise this Sharks team – despite their struggles this season – remains big, talented and deep. This will be a tough test for the Canucks.
- Prey: In the last six meetings between these two teams the Canucks have controlled a paltry 44.6 percent of shot attempts, though they’ve actually managed to somehow win three of the games. For whatever reason the Sharks always come to play against Vancouver, and seem to get the better of them more often than not. Vancouver will have to be at their best, particularly because a they pretty much have an opportunity to put San Jose’s playoff hopes to bed. If the Sharks lose tonight their playoff odds fall to 18 percent, according to sportsclubstats.com. If they win, their odds improve to 33 percent. That’s a massive swing, so expect them to be at their play dictating best.
- Make your Markstrom: Its been a while since Markstrom faced NHL shooters, and the last time he did, well, it didn’t go very well. Of the 71 NHL goaltenders who’ve logged at least 1000 5-on-5 minutes since the most recent NHL lockout, Markstrom’s .902 even-strength save percentage sits at a brutal .902. That’s worse than Anders Lindback, Martin Broduer, Jonas Gustavsson and any number of any goaltenders you really don’t want to see your team playing in front of. We’ve all heard about Markstrom’s technical adjustments and obviously he’s dominated the American Hockey League this season, but the proof will be in the pudding. This might be his last opportunity to cement himself as an NHL-level puck stopper.
- Don’t call me Frankie: Frank Corrado will play his first game in over a month and it’ll be interesting to see where he slots in. Will he play on Luca Sbisa’s right side, or will the Canucks perhaps disrupt the Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis pairing that has done so well for them? Sbisa and Weber have had decent results together this season, and Corrado and Hamhuis might be Vancouver’s best bet for a shutdown pair. We’ll have to wait and see how Doug Lidster decides to handle it.