One win away from their third trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks entertain the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Arena Tuesday night.
To say this has been a special teams battle is an understatement, as the two teams have combined for 41 power plays through the first four games of the series.
Henrik Sedin (1g,9a), Daniel Sedin (2g,3a), and Kevin Bieksa (3g,1a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring this series while Patrick Marleau (4g,2a), Joe Thorton (1g,5a), and Dan Boyle (1g,3a) lead the Sharks. 15 different Vancouver players have points this series while San Jose has 13. Roberto Luongo has a combined 2.77 goals against average in this series while Antti Niemi has a 4.33 GAA.
Luongo, who quietly stopped 33 shots in Game 4, has been a superstar for the Canucks all series, rising to the occasion when needed.
"Any given night someone else is stepping up, whether it be me or the twins or Burr, Higgins or Mason, it’s always someone stepping up," said Ryan Kesler, adding Luongo to the list. "He’s been playing really well, obviously it’s a good thing when you’re not noticing the goalie. It’s good for us."
Vancouver is preparing for its seventh game of the playoffs where they have the chance to eliminate an opponent. Over the course of their 4-2 win in Game 4 last Sunday, a variety of playoff records were broken:
: Four assists – most by a Canuck in a single playoff game
: Nine assists – most by a Canuck in a single playoff series
: 17 assists – most by a Canuck in a single playoff year
: 2 goals 16 sec. apart – fastest 2 goals by a Canuck in a playoff game
•Fastest three goals in Canucks playoff history (1:55 beats 2:18 set in 1989)
•Fewest shots on goal in Canucks playoff history (13 beats 15 set in 2009)
•Most 5-on-3 power play goals in one game (3 setting Canucks & NHL record)
Henrik Sedin leads the NHL playoffs in points (19), assists (17), and power play assists (9). He enters today’s game riding a five-game point-scoring streak (1g,10a). He is also three points behind Pavel Bure for 2nd place in Canucks all-time playoff scoring. Daniel Sedin is one power play goal away from setting the club record for most in a playoff year as his 5 is currently tied with Trevor Linden’s total from 1994.
None of those stats, however, or the fact that the Campbell Bowl (awarded to the Western Conference Champion) matters. It's all about winning one game.
"There’s a lot of things on the line and I don’t think that trophy means anything to us in here," said Henrik. "We’ve got a lot of respect for them, they’ve had guys that won big things before and they’ve got a great team over there so we know we’re going to have to put our best game on the ice.
The biggest question facing the Canucks in preparation for tonight’s game is the status of defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. After sitting out Game 4, he skated on his own yesterday before taking part in an optional practice with his teammates. He is being listed as day-to-day. Judging by the morning skate, Victor Oreskovich may take the place of Alex Bolduc.
The Sharks are facing elimination for the second time these playoffs. San Jose is 0-2 this year in a Game 5 scenario and they have never won a series when they have trailed 3-1. Todd McLellan’s message to his players in preparation for today’s game was pretty simple: “Bring it.”
Despite not finishing Game 4, Joe Thorton says he is good to play tonight. He failed to collect a point on Sunday, snapping his four-game point streak. Patrick Marleau had an assist in Sunday’s loss, extending his scoring streak to five games (5g,2a).
Defenceman Jason Demers, who has yet to appear in this series after being injured in Game 7 of the conference semi final against the Detroit Red Wings, says he’s healthy enough to play.