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Sharks vs. Canucks Preview: For the first time in a long time

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San Jose hits the road for one game

NHL: Preseason-Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since March 31, the Sharks will play the Vancouver Canucks tonight. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. in Vancouver for the first of a whopping five meetings between the two clubs over the last three months of the season. While it seems hard to believe, the clubs met as frequently over an even shorter span a season ago.

This season the teams meet five times between Feb. 2 and April 4, while last year they met the same number of times between Feb. 28 and March 31. If you forgot how tired you were of the Canucks by the end of the season, it’s only because the playoffs went on for so long; not that I’m complaining.

If nothing else, this provides an excellent opportunity for the Sharks to distance themselves from the rest of the Pacific against a weak opponent. Don’t let the Canucks’ point total fool you: they’re just as bad this year as they were a season ago. Their possession numbers are awful, their special teams are atrocious and the Sharks ought to improve on the 3-2 record they posted against Vancouver last year.

Time will tell. Joonas Donskoi did not make the trip to British Columbia, which means we’re likely to see the same lineup that beat Chicago on Tuesday. I doubt Pete DeBoer will do any tweaking to the lines, other than perhaps moving Tomas Hertl around (though I doubt that, too). Expect Martin Jones to start again, too.

Vancouver hasn’t played since the end of the All-Star break, so I assume Bo Horvat has been practicing everything he learned from playing with Johnny Gaudreau during the All-Star Game on Sunday. Oh, and the Sedins should be very well rested, too. Who else plays for the Canucks now? Oh, right — Louis Eriksson. Remember that guy? He decided to sign a long deal with Vancouver this offseason. At least the food is good; at least, that’s what I hear.

Go Sharks.