The Canucks (43-16-9) look to continue their perfect road trip tonight when they visit the Sharks (39-22-6) in San Jose tonight. The Canucks are 41-34-11 all time against the Sharks, but only 19-19-6 at the Shark Tank.
The game features the much anticipated Canuck debut of deadline acquisition Chris Higgins, who has been out since breaking his thumb while blocking a shot on February 25th against the Atlanta Thrashers. He will start on the fourth line left wing, alongside Maxim Lapierre and Tanner Glass.
“I’ve always been a versatile player, just looking to build chemistry with whoever I am playing with in Vancouver, and if I can score some goals, obviously that would be great,” said Higgins. “But I’m just looking forward to finding my niche and trying to contribute every night”.
Higgins has 11 goals and 23 points in 48 games this season. He will be the 39th player to suit up for the Canucks this season. The Franchise record of 49 players to dress in one season was set in 1990-91.
Mason Raymond returns to the lineup tonight after missing a game with a shoulder stinger. He will move back to his normal spot on the second line.
The Sharks are the hottest team in the NHL, and have been for quite a while. They’re 18-3-1 over their last 22 games, and now sit comfortably in 3rd place in the Western Conference, just two points back of the Detroit Red Wings for 2nd.
The Canucks power play is back, plugging along at its usual first place clip, after going five games without scoring. The NHL’s top ranked unit has scored in each of the last two games, while, conversely, the Sharks are 2-14 on the power play since first unit quarterback Dan Boyle went down with an upper body injury on February 23rd. He is expected to return to the San Jose lineup tonight.
Cory Schneider gets the call in net for the Canucks. He hasn’t fared too well against the Sharks with 5.99 GAA and an .840 save percentage, but he got the victory in his last game against them on January 3rd of this year.
Anti Neimi goes for the Sharks. With a 17-3-1 record in his last 21 games started he’s a big reason for the team’s recent success. His last game against the Canucks was a 2-1 victory on January 20th.
Kevin Bieksa is still skating on his own, and won’t rejoin the team before the end of the current five game road trip. He is eligible to return from long term injury reserve on against the Flames Saturday night.