The San Jose Sharks have now defeated the Vancouver Canucks ten consecutive times, including regular season, preseason and playoff games. Talk about downright domination.
Here are some parting thoughts…
San Jose’s first power play looked great. All the gears were moving, the skaters were swapping places and they were creating a lot of pressure. That faded as the game wore on though, including a blown two-minute 5-on-3 chance.
Oddly enough, the Sharks looked more dangerous while on the penalty kill than on the power play during the second and third periods. They forced several turnovers at the top of the defensive zone and were able to use their team speed to catch Vancouver’s defense flat footed.
The difference in this game was Roberto Luongo, who probably hasn’t looked this solid in years. Sure, the final was 4-1, but he kept the Canucks in a game where they were badly out-shot and out-played during long stretches. He stopped 16 shots in the first period alone.
There isn’t enough space here to talk about how outstanding Tomas Hertl was in his regular season debut. He was dangerous with the puck, showed off his outstanding shot and (most importantly) was a dog in his pursuit of the puck carrier at all times.
Antti Niemi didn’t have to stand on his head much tonight, but made some key saves down the stretch when the Sharks were only up 2-1.
Standing out the most to me during this game was San Jose’s tenacity along the boards and below the circles. They drew power play after power play (eight of them total) by playing bullish in the dirty areas, and looked outstanding doing it. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture in particular were mind-numbingly outstanding in particular on the forecheck.
While a victory is a victory, the Sharks clearly need to work on their power play. They looked tentative at times and struggled with one facet or another on every attempt. During one chance the entries would be awful. On another, the shots wouldn’t making it to the net. The biggest issue though was getting bodies in front of Luongo, which didn’t happen nearly often enough.
Around the halfway mark of the second period, the Sharks started getting forward to the blue paint. It’s no coincidence that this is when the game turned around for the boys in teal.
The combination of Couture, Tyler Kennedy and Patrick Marleau looked dangerous and dynamic all night. The speed is outstanding, and all three guys are capable of getting in on the forecheck quickly. It was Couture that did a lot of the dirty work though, and he was directly responsible for two of San Jose’s goals.
Brent Burns was also outstanding. Man, can that guy shoot the puck. There’s a lot to like about the top line of Thornton, Burns and Hertl. Great size, and everyone is a scoring threat.
Overall, the Sharks played an outstanding game. No Adam Burish, Martin Havlat or Raffi Torres? No problem.