San Jose Sharks Begin Critical Home-and-Home Against Vancouver Canucks


Mar 2, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) celebrates with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) and right wing Ben Smith (21) after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks were able to put February behind them with one of their best games of the season last night against the Montreal Canadiens. However, that game is a mere appetizer to the main course that will be played tonight.

The Sharks will face the Vancouver Canucks in a crucial home-and-home series that will likely determine how the rest of the season could shake out for team teal. San Jose is currently tied with the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames with 70 points, but both of those teams have two games in hand. Vancouver holds a five-point lead over the Sharks with two games in hand as well.

Obviously, with the Sharks having played more games than everyone they are pursuing, it’s critical for San Jose to perform well in the matchups this week. If the Sharks can win both games against the Canucks, they could pull within one point of their rivals and signal to everyone else that they’re still a factor in the West.

A split of the two games would leave San Jose in a relative no man’s land and still in need of a winning streak. Losing both games is not an option for the Sharks as that would likely put the Canucks out of reach and allow others to extend their leads.

It should be a fascinating chess match over the next two games and hopefully the Sharks can take some momentum from last night’s performance.

Players to Watch

San Jose: Patrick Marleau: Marleau has typically been a streaky scorer in his career and he is currently riding a three-game scoring streak, with all three goals coming on the power play. The Sharks’ struggles coincided with Marleau’s lack of production as he only had two goals and six assists prior to his current streak. Marleau has fared well against the Canucks in his career with 24 goals and 22 assists in 66 career regular season games with a plus-three rating. The Sharks would like to see Marleau stay hot these next couple of games.

Vancouver: Eddie Lack: Lack has been thrust into the starting lineup after Ryan Miller went down with an apparent leg injury suffered against the New York Islanders on Feb. 22. Lack is 2-1 since replacing Miller and is 8-8-2 with a 2.64 GAA and a .913 save percentage this year. The Sharks are probably glad they won’t see Miller who is 9-2-1 in his career against San Jose with a 2.29 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

Quick Take

The Sharks trail the season series (2-1) against the Canucks with each team winning on the other’s home ice. San Jose won the last meeting at Vancouver on Feb. 5 with a convincing 5-1 victory and has won six straight games at Rogers Arena, including the playoffs. The Canucks have won seven of their past 10 games in surging into second place in the Pacific Division.

San Jose will need to weather an early storm having played the night before and will need a strong special teams effort as well. With everything that’s riding on this game, look for a high-intensity game with plenty of chippy play throughout between two teams that don’t like each other. Buckle up; it should be a fun one tonight.