San Jose will look to take four out of the five meetings against Vancouver this season when the two teams square off tonight.
The San Jose Sharks will make a quick stop at SAP Center tonight as they conclude their home-and-home, and season, series against the Vancouver Canucks. San Jose is fresh off a 4-1 victory over Vancouver on Tuesday night when Logan Couture’s first career hat trick powered the Sharks past their divisional foes.
Team teal has won two-straight contests as they continue to refine their game with the playoffs set to begin in two weeks. With just five games remaining, the Sharks look to build confidence and momentum, especially on home ice where they’ve struggled to gain any sort of traction all season.
Meanwhile, Vancouver is limping to the finish having dropped nine consecutive games as they plummet to the bottom of the Pacific Division standings. The end of the season can’t come quickly enough for this Canucks team that actually made the postseason last year.
The one thing going for Vancouver heading into tonight’s matchup is the fact that the road team has won all four meetings to date.
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Sharks: Roman Polak. Polak was on the receiving end of a late hit from Jake Virtanen in the second period Tuesday night which resulted in Virtanen receiving a five-minute major, game misconduct and a two-game suspension from the NHL. Polak was able to return to action and actually saw his most ice time (20:18) since coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Polak has settled in nicely on San Jose’s third-pairing alongside Brenden Dillon as he has three assists in his 19 games with the Sharks.
Canucks: Daniel Sedin. The Sedin twins continue to produce for this Vancouver franchise. While the Canucks rank dead last in the NHL in goals per game, it’s not because of the work from Daniel Sedin. Sedin leads the Canucks attack with 27 goals and 59 points this year, including two goals against San Jose.
Keys to the Game
1. Jump On Them Early
As mentioned previously, this is a terrible Canucks team, one devoid of any sense of confidence. The Sharks need to start quickly and control the game from the onset in order to roll their four lines all night. San Jose had an understandably poor first period on Tuesday after clinching a playoff berth the night before, but there are no excuses in starting slow tonight.
2. Special Teams
The one area where the Sharks need to sharpen up is their special teams play. San Jose’s first unit on the power play needs to get things cranked back up as that will be a critical piece of any playoff run. Also, team teal’s penalty kill must improve on their 23rd-ranked unit as that won’t get things done in the postseason.
3. Spread Out The Minutes
At this point in the year, San Jose wants to ensure that everyone is healthy and ready to go. Peter DeBoer should consider limiting the minutes on some of his top players as this veteran group has logged a lot of miles this season. Look for the Sharks to rely on some of their depth and role players more as the season winds down.
TV: CSN-California (7:30 p.m. PDT)
Radio: 98.5 KFOX