The Canucks are about to get tested as they take their first trip to California this season, backed by an impressive 9-4-0 record. The game marks the first of the dreaded three game California odyssey. Up first, Vancouver will play a team that they have beaten only once in their last eleven tries, including playoffs: the San Jose Sharks.
Game Time: 7:30 pm
TV: Sportsnet 360
It seems every game the Canucks play against the Sharks is a big one and Thursday night’s game is no exception. The Canucks have started the season playing very well and have surprised many while the Sharks have played fairly uneven. Forget about all of the that! When these two teams get together, it’s a battle! The Canucks-Sharks matchup has been one filled with skill, passion, and hatred. It’s a recipe for a great game. As the great Casey Printers once said, “kids, get your popcorn ready!”
1. Game One of the Big California Test
a refresher: #Canucks vs California last season vs SJS 1-2-1 vs LAK 1-3-1 vs ANA 0-4-1 Total: 2-9-3 & outscored 49-19
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) November 5, 2014
The Canucks started their four game road trip with a strong 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, but the joy of a four goal 3rd period effort quickly subsided with the knowledge that the Canucks were heading into California. Make no mistake, the win against the Avs was an important one and another game that showed this year’s version of the Canucks are much improved from a year ago, but the first real test of the season starts Thursday night in San Jose. Mr. Paterson is quite right to point out that the Canucks were absolutely manhandled against the Sharks, the Kings and Ducks. These next three games will tell everyone a lot about how competitive this year’s version of the Canucks really are. The reality is that the California teams are beasts and Canucks management will learn a lot from how the team responds to adversity.
2. Alex Burrows Return From Suspension
Alex Burrows has served his three-game suspension and will return to the lineup. Interestingly enough, the talk among Canucks fans is less about Burrows’ impact in the lineup and more about who will be the victim of a healthy scratch. Interesting times indeed! How can the Canucks sit Bo Horvat after such a promising NHL debut? Shawn Matthias is an obvious possibility, but he has been playing much better the last three games and scored his first goal of the season against the Avs on Tuesday night (not to mention he gives the team size against the physically imposing Sharks). Jannik Hansen seems like the odd man out, but he was promoted to the second line only a few games ago (then promptly demoted to the fourth line where he belongs). My bet is that Hansen watches the game from the press box, but time will tell.
3. Remembering What Could Have Been
Couture said the Western Conference loss to the #Canucks was one of the more heartbreaking losses he has been apart of.
— Ryan Henderson (@RJHenderson7) November 5, 2014
It is well publicized that the Sharks took the loss to the Canucks in the 2011 Western Conference Final extremely hard. For whatever reason, the Sharks felt they were the better team at the time and have never been able to let it go. The Sharks were very good, but they were not quite at the level of the Canucks back then. This is a familiar refrain for the Sharks. Perennial favourites, perennial playoff chokers. I’m not completely sure they really are a group that chokes in the playoffs, more so, they have been a very good regular season team that unfortunately seems to run into a team that is better than them year after year. The Sharks simply are a very good team that will likely never, at least with this core, get to play in a Stanley Cup Final.
Hey Logan! This one’s for you! Remember?
Alex Burrows returns from his 3-game suspension and the Canucks are healthy again (assuming Luca Sbisa is over the flu). Ryan Miller, with his league leading 9 wins, will once again tend the net.
Willie Desjardins has not tipped his hand on who his healthy scratch will be with Burrows returning. As always, we will update this section after line rushes in the morning skate.
***Update: Nick Bonino did not take the morning skate and Horvat took his spot in practice. That tells me that Horvat is just filling-in and will likely sit tonight (surely they can’t make him their #2 centre).
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Vrbata|
I’m the biggest San Jose Sharks hater amongst the Vancity Buzz Sports crew and I have a history of predicting Canuck wins (except during the latter stages of the John Tortorella era). This makes my prediction, well, predictable. The Canucks ride the wave of a brilliant comeback in Colorado and follow-up with a 4-1 dismantling of the Sharks, I continue my hate-on for the Sharks.