Sharks-Canucks: What to watch for


Sharks-Canucks: What to watch for

VANCOUVER (22-12-2) vs. SHARKS (19-11-3)
on Comcast SportsNet California at 7 p.m.

SAN JOSE The Vancouver Canucks are on a roll.

A league-leading power play has helped the Canucks to a 13-3-1 record in their last 17 games, as they visit the Sharks tonight at HP Pavilion. Vancouver sports an even 25-percent success rate with a man advantage, more than three percentage points higher than the second place Nashville Predators (21.6 percent).

Theyve got different looks. Obviously, the Sedins are pretty creative out there, defenseman Dan Boyle said. Theyre a big reason for it, but the guys on the blue line can shoot the puck pretty good. They have a lot of skill and a lot of creativity out there.

The identical twins Boyle is referring to, Henrik and Daniel, have identical power play numbers as well. The Canucks leading scorers each have six goals and 12 assists when on a man advantage.

They support each other really well and read off of each other, Douglas Murray said. They have solutions for a lot of situations they get into, and theyre creative.

RELATED: Handzus mentoring McGinn toward career year

Still, the Canucks have failed to score a power play goal in six of their last seven games, going 2-for-15 over that span. That could help the Sharks penalty kill gain confidence, which is still 28th in the league at 75.2 percent and dead last at home (72.1 percent).

Todd McLellan would rather not give the Canucks a chance to get their power play humming again, though. Discipline will be key, as far as staying out of the penalty box.

Check properly, use your legs instead of your stick, dont reach, no retaliation, that type of stuff, said the coach.

On the other side, the Sharks power play has struggled since they last saw the Canucks on Nov. 26 a 3-2 win for Vancouver at HP Pavilion. San Jose entered that game with the fifth ranked power play in the league at 22.2 percent, but a 4-for-45 stretch over the last 14 games has dropped them down to 13th in the NHL (18 percent).

What happened?

Lack of opportunity, and we havent earned enough power play chances in the game to gather any type of rhythm, McLellan said.

Murrays return: Murray will return to the Sharks lineup tonight after missing the last 10 games with a right hand injury. But, he didnt want to admit that to a Vancouver reporter this morning.

Its actually my left toe, not my wrist, so you can report that over there, he joked.

The beneficial part of Murrays injury is that hes been able to keep up his cardio, so McLellan wont have to limit his minutes against Vancouver.

I dont think hell have any issue physically, McLellan said. Hes probably skated more now than he has in his life. His fitness part of it and the ability to play the minutes is fine. It will be his reads, his anticipation, his puck skills. Tough team to come back against, but I dont worry about his lungs or his legs at all.

Murray said: Theyre a hot team right now, so you might as well get going and get your legs moving right away.

Targeting McGinn? Sharks forward Jamie McGinn was labeled a Canuck hunter after the previous game, when he knocked Canucks defenseman Alex Edler from the game with a hard check along the boards.

Edler didnt miss any time after that, but after what McGinn did to Vancouver in last years Western Conference finals, is he worried about any retaliation tonight?
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Not so much.

Im just going to continue playing my game, and I think those were pretty clean hits, and it was just a freak accident that they got hurt, McGinn said. Im just going to continue to do what I do, and play hard.

McGinn has been providing valuable secondary scoring for the Sharks recently, with six goals and three assists in his last 12 games.

Finishing strong at home: The Sharks conclude their six-game homestand tonight looking for their fifth win.

A 5-1 record looks much healthier than 4-2, especially when you consider that the Sharks will have four days off between tonights game and Jan. 2 when they visit Vancouver.

That would be huge for us. Five out of six looks a whole lot better than four out of six, McGinn said. I think its critical to have a great home record, especially in front of these fans. Theyre great every year and we want to reward them with wins.

McLellan sounds like hell hammer home that point to his team prior to the game.

We know that anything less than an A-game will send us on the road with a 4-2 record. An A-game gives us an opportunity to be successful. Just like going on the Christmas break, youd like to leave your home arena when you leave on a road trip with a win, he said.

Thats what were showing up for and thats what were going to compete for, and at the end of the night we want to look up at the scoreboard and make sure that happens.

Odds and ends: Roberto Luongo will face Antti Niemi in net. Cory Schneider got the win on Nov. 26 for Vancouver, making 43 saves. Luongo is 8-1-1 in his last 10 games. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are tied for the Sharks team lead in goals with 15 each. Colin White is out for the Sharks with a lower body injury. Aaron Rome (thumb) and David Booth (knee) remain out for Vancouver.

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud

Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud


DETROIT – The Sharks organization made some good memories over the years at Joe Louis Arena. Saturday’s game, their final regular season game ever in the storied Detroit arena, wasn’t one of them.

Gustav Nyquist scored twice and Jimmy Howard made 30 saves in leading the Red Wings to a 3-0 blanking of the Sharks. San Jose’s record stands at an even 3-3-0 after it lost three of five games on its road trip, including the final two.

The Sharks open a three-game homestand with the Ducks on Tuesday.

Both of Nyquist’s goals came in the second period as Detroit opened up a 2-0 edge.

His first came on a two-on-one rush. Nyquist skated the puck into the Sharks’ zone, slammed on the breaks in the faceoff circle, and buzzed a wrist shot past Martin Jones at 4:14 of the middle frame.

On his second score, Nyquist squeezed a wrist shot through Jones from the slot at 15:10 shortly after Matt Nieto lost his footing – and the puck – in the Sharks’ defensive zone.

The Red Wings put the game out of reach when Andreas Athanasiou teed off on a slap shot from the circle at 6:05 of the third period, beating the Sharks’ starting goalie high to the far side.

San Jose was unable to score despite pulling Jones for an extra attacker with more than three minutes to go.

The Sharks again struggled on the power play taking an 0-for-4, and are 0-for-8 over the last three games.

Detroit will open Little Ceasar’s Arena at the start of next season. The Sharks finished with a 12-28-4 record all-time at The Joe.

Special teams

If there was one bright spot for the Sharks it was their penalty kill, which fought off all seven Red Wings power plays.

The power play, though, remains ice cold, as San Jose has scored just one power play goal this season during a standard five-on-four advantage. Overall, the Sharks are 3-for-20 on the season, including an empty net goal and another on a two-man advantage.

A bit of nastiness ensued shortly after the Red Wings’ third goal, as Joe Pavelski was given a double-minor for “attempting to spear” Steve Ott, who got an unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

In goal

Jones dropped to 2-3 on the season, losing his third straight start after beginning the season with a pair of wins. He allowed three goals on 32 shots.

Howard won for the second time in as many starts. He improved to 5-7-4 all-time against San Jose.


Brent Burns, who entered the game tied for the league lead in scoring with nine points, saw his five-game point streak to start the season come to an end.

Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader was scratched, so Athanasiou was inserted back into the lineup.

San Jose reassigned forward Ryan Carpenter to the Barracuda on Friday. He did not play at all on the trip.

Up next

The Sharks will play just their second home game on Tuesday against Anaheim. The Blue Jackets visit SAP Center on Thursday, and the Predators next Saturday.

Overall, five of the Sharks’ next six games are in San Jose.