Sharks vs. Canucks: Navigating the Western logjam

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As they begin a two-game swing through Canada, the Sharks hope to gain some separation from the pack in the Western Conference.

As I type this sentence, the Sharks are currently 6th in the Western Conference. That could very well change by the time they take the ice against the Canucks tonight at 7PM during their first visit of the season to Rogers Arena in Vancouver. With six teams, including San Jose, having thus far accumulated 24 standings points, the Sharks could easily be either out of the playoffs or (somewhat) comfortably in fourth place at the end of their Canadian back-to-back that continues tomorrow in Calgary.

The Sharks and Canucks met once before this season, as San Jose skated away 4-1 winners on the season's second weekend. That game was much closer than the final score indicated, however, and there's no need to rehash the struggles the Sharks have had against their northern rivals in recent years. Kevin Bieksa isn't expected to play tonight and Ryan Kesler is still out for weeks but the Canucks remain a frighteningly deep team at every position. I'd be wary of the Sharks' third and fourth lines taking shifts against Vancouver's Higgins/Raymond/Hansen unit that simply oozes speed. These teams might as well get used to each other as they'll be seeing a lot more of one another should realignment come to pass. Speaking of, the Canucks should probably pour out a 40 for the Northwest Division when that occurs. Go Sharks.

San Jose Sharks

@

Vancouver Canucks
10-6-4, 24 points
11-6-4, 26 points
6th in Western Conference 3rd in Western Conference

7PM PST | Rogers Arena | Vancouver, British Columbia
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: 98.5 KFOX, SJSharks.com
Know Your Enemy: Canucks Army, Nucks Misconduct, Pass It To Bulis

Projected Sharks Lineup

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Bracken Kearns
Tim Kennedy - Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Scott Gomez - James Sheppard
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Projected Canucks Lineup

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Maxim Lapierre - Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins - Mason Raymond - Jannik Hansen
Tom Sestito - Jordan Schroeder - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Jason Garrison
Alexander Edler - Cam Barker
Andrew Alberts - Chris Tanev

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo

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