Continuing on with their third game in four nights, the Vancouver Canucks kick off another busy week on Monday with a tilt against another Pacific Division foe, the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks come into Monday’s game with a 3-13-1 record but have been picking up a fair number of wins lately – posting a 3-3-0 record over their previous six outings. The Sharks ran through the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, picking up a 5-1 victory.
On top of their stronger play of late, the Sharks have had three full days off since their romp over the Blues and will be well-rested ahead of Monday’s matchup.
San Jose features a few exciting young players in their lineup. Leading the way this season has been 21-year-old William Eklund. He has three goals and three assists this season and was the 7th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. 23-year-old Filip Zadina was selected one pick before Quinn Hughes in the 2018 draft. Zadina is up to three goals and two assists for five points on the year. Hughes has a few more than that.
Former Canuck Kyle Burroughs will return to his hometown team for the first time since signing a three-year, $3,300,000 contract as a free agent this summer. Burroughs has been bumped off the Sharks’ top power play unit after they traded for 23-year-old Calen Addison earlier this month. Even without the power play time, Burroughs is averaging 19:31 of ice time this season.
J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes are leading the way for the Canucks with 12 points each over their past seven games. Miller and Brock Boeser each have five goals in their past seven games and with their recent run of scoring, Boeser is tied for third in the league for goals with 13.
As the offence has continued to run strong for some, the defensive side of the game of one player has caught our attention. Dakota Joshua has now gone 12 games without being on the ice for a goal against at even-strength. On top of his strong play at evens, Joshua has been one of the most used forwards on the penalty kill and continues to develop his skills while playing a man short.
We’ve seen the Canucks do a great job protecting leads after 40 minutes this season. They are 10-0-0 when they hold a lead after two periods. The Canucks have outscored their opponents 23-14 in third periods this season and are even better on home ice -- outscoring their opponents by a 12-4 count in those final frames.
Both netminders continue to play with confidence in the crease. Thatcher Demko is now 8-4-0 on the season with a 0.926% save percentage. Casey DeSmith is 4-1-1 on the year with a 0.912% save percentage of his own.
This is the second matchup of the season between the Sharks and Canucks. The last time these two teams met, the Sharks were in a tailspin and the Canucks took advantage of that in a 10-1 whooping on November 2nd.
Tyler Myers spoke about the challenge of facing a team that they beat 10-1 the last time they faced each other.
“We don't want to go into [Monday] night thinking it’s going to be an easy game, because it's not,” said Myers. “It's a game that we need to get back to playing the right way and if we do, we'll have a lot of success this year. [It] doesn't matter who we're playing, we need to focus on ourselves and the standard that we've set for ourselves, and we've just got to get back to it.”
Head coach Rick Tocchet knows that this game against the bottom-dweller of the NHL standings is a game that the team cannot take lightly. He will be looking past the Canucks’ lopsided win over the Sharks less than three weeks ago.
“They're professionals [and] they’ve got good players,” said Tocchet. “I don't care what anybody says, that kind of game is an anomaly. It happens once in a blue moon, I've been in part of those games in the past where we are on the other side you lose eight nothing, things don't go right. So, yeah, we're not taking these guys lightly at all, trust me.”
We will see these two teams meet up again later this week as the Canucks will face the Sharks in San Jose for a Saturday night affair that will wrap up a quick road trip that sees the Canucks travel to three different cities in four nights.
Puck drop for Monday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 pm PT. You can watch the game on Sportsnet and listen to the broadcast on Sportsnet 650.