We've examined the field, surveyed the schedule, talked tactics and peeked at the opposing roster. Now it's time to lay down our predictions for the first-round series between the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks, set to finally begin tonight at 7:30 in Vancouver.
Projected Game 1 Lineups
|Team||Score-Adj. Fenwick%||5v5 GF/60||5v5 GA/60||5v5 Goal Differential||5v4 SF/60||4v5 SA/60||Usage Chart|
Patrick: Trying to predict what's going to happen in a Sharks/Canucks playoff match up is like trying to predict the weather. Various hand-waving followed by a bunch of contingencies, followed by a vague statement, and a conservative prediction. There's going to be a lot of talented hockey players out on the ice, but I think one of the most intriguing match-ups will be AV vs. TMac. AV has traditionally zone-matched his lines. That is, he puts certain lines out for offensive zone draws, and others for defensive zone draws. Although he has gotten away from this a bit this year, I expect that to continue. Tmac on the other hand does his best to create favorable match-ups line vs. line. Home ice will be particularly important this series, as it gives the home coach last change, which will be big in this series. I think the team that can weather the poor match-ups ultimately wins this series.
Ann: This is more of a "wishful thinking" prediction with a dose of reality sprinkled in. Both teams are good, and both teams are different than they have been for most of the year, between injuries and acquisitions. Both teams want to prove to the world that their Cup window is not closing, darn it, so stop saying that. As long as there aren’t any stanchions deciding to take a shift, Sharks should be okay. Sharks in 6.
Mike: I don't actually believe they'll pull off a sweep, but I'm just going balls out for the hell of it. Patrick Marleau scores every game-winning goal and begins The Most Epic Playoff Handlebar Mustache Of All Time. Sharks in 4.
Jon W.: Two very similar teams: strong down the middle with a good mix of grit, speed, and goaltending - yes, even if Luongo plays. Roberto Luongo is still pretty awesome, he's just suffering from Scott Gomez contract syndrome. Personally, I can't wait to Raffi Torres douche it up with Maxim Lapierre, or Alex Burrows, or Ryan Kesler. Damn the Canucks are full of douchebags. I see big things for Brent Burns in this series. He causes chaos, and that seems to pay off in the playoffs. Sharks in 6.
Derek: In so many ways this series is little more than a coin flip. Both teams have built up an enviable stable of forward depth as the season has progressed, both teams have a terrific goaltender between the pipes and both teams are capable of carrying play at even-strength for extended stretches. Both teams even have a standout young right-shooting defenseman who will begin this series injured and whose return could have major positive implications for their respective bluelines. This series will be won at the margins; things like manufacturing conducive matchups, gaining a special teams advantage and of course benefiting from favorable bounces will likely determine who escapes this round alive. I have confidence in Todd McLellan's ability to generate on-ice mismatches, the Sharks are clearly the better club on special teams and I'll predict they get a fluky victory in Vancouver while holding serve on home ice. Sharks in 6.