Sharks look to put cherry on top of a successful homestand with win against the Canucks



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22-12-2, 46 points 19-11-3, 41 points
2nd in Western Conference 3rd in Western Conference
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The Province

Jimmy crack corn. Cares.

That's how the Anaheim game felt like on Monday night. Deep down you look at the Ducks, look at the perfect homestand record coming into the game, and realize that a loss won't mean a whole lot in the big picture. The Sharks are playing some pretty fine hockey as of late and a loss to a desperate Anaheim team who always shows up against San Jose is... I wouldn't say it was expected, but it was reasonable. Winning streaks don't last forever, Jonas Hiller's ability to stymie the Sharks apparently does, and we move on.

But there's something that still irks the Sharks fan when it comes to Anaheim-- something that just doesn't sit right. You flip the results of the games against Tampa Bay and Anaheim and all is right with the world. But the mental anguish that still eats at the soul, that first round loss in 2008, that fact still makes those games seem mythological in stature. It is a blight on the soul.

First world problems, folks. We've got em' and we've got em bad.

And when it comes to teams who have the Sharks number as of late, you needn't look further than tonight's opponent the Vancouver Canucks.

San Jose vs. Vancouver, 2010 through 2011

Date Type
Vancouver San jose
11/26/11 Regular
3 2 L
5/24/11 Playoffs
3 2 L, OT
5/22/11 Playoffs Home
4 2 L
5/20/11 Playoffs Home
3 4 W
5/18/11 Playoffs Away
7 3 L
5/15/11 Playoffs Away
3 2 L
3/10/11 Regular
5 4 L, SO
1/20/11 Regular
1 2 W, SO
1/3/11 Regular
4 3 L
11/26/10 Regular
6 1 L
37 (3.7/GP)
25 (2.5/GP)

Certainly not a pretty picture there for the Sharks, even if the majority of those games (seven of them in fact) ended up as one goal differentials or losses in the shootout. That's the rub-- one goal victories may be heartbreaking, brutal affairs, but they may be a sign that these two teams are so evenly matched it's only a matter of time until things go the other way. Or it could be a sign that the Canucks have a little extra gas in the tank that allows them to grasp victory by the skin of their teeth each time these two teams meet.

I guess we'll find out later tonight.

As we mentioned earlier this week, both San Jose and Vancouver are two of the best teams in the Western Conference when it comes to a basic look at the underlying metrics that indicate sustained success in the NHL. Coming into tonight the Canucks have the better points percentage (3rd, .639%) compared to the Sharks (5th, .621%), the Sharks have the superior 5v5 goal ratio (2nd, 1.47) compared to the Canucks (4th, 1.24), and the Canucks are one of the best teams in overall goal differential (2nd, +32) while the Sharks are a very respectable team in that regard as well (4th, +17). All in all it sets up what should be yet another classic between two teams who, outside of hating each other's guts, both know how to play the game of hockey pretty damn well too.

Reports out of Vancouver indicate Roberto Luongo will get the start tonight for the Canucks. I've defended Luongo's abilities as a goaltender before in the past, but with the way Cory Schneider has gone against San Jose as of late, that might be considered a good thing. While not confirmed, it's safe to assume Niemi will get the start for San Jose-- it has been tough sledding for Niemi throughout his entire career against Vancouver, but with Greiss and Niittymaki beginning to take more and more of a backseat as the season progresses, it's time to live and die with the Caudal Finn*.

*The Caudal fin is the fin that moves a Shark forward while hunting for prey. It's not the best nickname as it doesn't have a great ring to it, but it's still a shame we didn't at least float the idea out there when both Niemi and Niittymaki were the tandem goaltenders last season.

Prediction: Sharks win by McGinn.