|Player||TOI||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi +/-||Chances For||Chances Against||Chances +/-|
- The first four periods of this series felt like a slowly expanding bubble in terms of the extent to which Vancouver was generating offensive-zone possession with hardly any scoring opportunities of note to show for it. The bubble burst in that thrilling second period last night as the Canucks created eight even-strength scoring chances--more than either team had at evens in all of Game 1--but Antti Niemi stood tall.
- The bad news: the Sharks have spent far too much time in their own end through two games of this series with the Canucks dominating territorial play. The good news: they've been a substantially better possession team (and, really, a substantially better team, period) at home all season, earning about 55% of the unblocked shot attempts with the score close. We knew the key to this series would be the Sharks stealing a game in Vancouver. Well, they've stolen two and as long as they can be the home team that we've seen throughout 2013, they should be able to close this thing out. The playoffs are about luck more than anything else and, for once, the hockey gods appear to be rooting for the Sharks.
- Of course that statement sells San Jose's defense unfairly short. They were aces in both games, preventing the Canucks from getting anything dangerous going through the neutral zone or finding their way into the scoring area all that frequently when they controlled possession. There were a few breakdowns against the Sedin twins in Game 2, which is to be expected, but overall they've done an admirable job in denying the Canucks scoring chances.
- It goes without saying that the Sharks need to be better on their power play than they were in Game 2. Beyond not scoring, they generated just four shots on goal and three scoring chances in 8:04 with the man-advantage. Vancouver appeared to really be pressuring the Sharks on zone entries, which I'm surprised they didn't do more of in Game 1 given that both teams employ an essentially identical strategy for gaining the blue line on the power play.
- The zero chances for in Marleau's row will likely raise some bushy eyebrows; this chart only contains even-strength data from when both goalies were in net, so Marleau's whacks at the puck to tie the game late aren't included here.
Head-to-head scoring chances
(Click to enlarge)
- Todd McLellan was once again able to get Couture and Vlasic out against the Sedins with regularity but that matchup didn't work out nearly as well for the Sharks in Game 2 as it did in Game 1. Henrik and Daniel were their usual, incredibly talented selves and ran roughshod over every Shark they faced, except Antti Niemi.
- Justin Braun in particular seemed to struggle a bit with his assignment. McLellan paired Vlasic with Dan Boyle for a couple of shifts in the third period; it's unlikely that's anything resembling a long-term plan but it might not be a terrible idea to reunite the shutdown pair that worked wonders last season when this series returns to San Jose. It leaves the other two pairings quite vulnerable but, with last change, McLellan should be able to keep those four away from the twins at any rate.
- So the prevailing narrative is that Ryan Kesler entered beast mode in this game. There's no question his two goals were huge for Vancouver but Joe Thornton and Brent Burns wiped the floor with that newly constructed Higgins/Kesler/Roy line at even-strength. Faceoff wins and hits just aren't as important as broadcasts make them out to be; Kesler was great in both categories but the Canucks gave up a ton of chances when he was on the ice five aside.
- The hope is that Vigneault buys into the Kesler hype and keeps these lines together. Should the Sharks get Havlat and Gomez back for Game 3, not only will they be able to manufacture an advantage by matching Thornton against Kesler but the Pavelski and Gomez lines should be able to dominate what is at best a mediocre Canucks bottom six. At that point, what the Sedins do against Couture is largely immaterial.