The Canucks wrap up their back-to-back set with the San Jose Sharks tonight when they play in front of their home fans at Rogers Arena for the first time in the 2015 pre-season.
Last night's tilt between the Canucks and Sharks at the Q Centre in Colwood might not have been the most aesthetically pleasing contest but it ended on a high note. Newcomer and local boy Adam Cracknell netted the lone goal in overtime to lift Vancouver to a 1-0 win over a rather youthful San Jose squad. The Sharks should have a much different look tonight as many of their veterans are expected to be in the lineup while the Canucks will likely also counter with their top stars including the likes of netminder Ryan Miller, and along with the Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Alex Burrows just to name a few.
What Canucks fans are most looking forward to, however, is the continued infusion of youth into the lineup. Tonight's tilt could mark the first pre-season game for the likes of Cole Cassels, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen - three of most highly touted prospects in the Canucks' system and all of whom are coming off standout junior campaigns and had strong showings at the recent YoungStars Tournament in Penticton.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet ONE, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
2014.15 Season Series
2014.15 Regular Season Record
2nd Pacific 5th Pacific
All-Time Series (Regular Season)
Although new Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer did suggest that some players who played yesterday in Kraft Hockeyville could also see the ice tonight at Rogers Arena, the chances are both teams will ice much different looking lineups. For San Jose, this means that many of the veterans that sat out yesterday including familiar names such as Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, and Patrick Marleau, as well as newcomer Joel Ward, could make their respective pre-season debuts tonight. While their team as a whole is coming off a disappointing 2014.15 campaign, there's a mixed feeling for some of those key players heading into season on a personal level. Guys like Pavelski, who is currently touted as the potential new captain, and Burns are looking to build off strong seasons while others like Thornton and Marleau are looking for bounce back years. Thornton's 65 points were his fewest in a non-lockout season since joining San Jose, while Marleau's 57 points were his fewest in a non-lockout campaign since 2007.08.
All eyes, however, figure to be on the Sharks crease tonight. While Troy Grosenick and Aaron Dell saw action last night, neither is considered a contender for a full-time NHL gig this year. If either Martin Jones or Alex Stalock starts tonight as expected, it will mark the first chance for one of those two to begin to lay a claim to the number one gig to start the regular season. Jones, in particular, should be chomping at the bit to get the call tonight. Not only will the North Vancouver-native want to make a good first impression for his new club, but it would also be the first time he will get to face the Canucks in his career albeit in a game that won't ultimately count in the record books.
Keys to the Game
Get that power play clicking. Much of the success the Canucks had last year could be attributed to their 9th ranked power play. The man-advantage wasn't quite operating at its best yesterday in the pre-season opener although with some of the key personnel like the Sedin twins expected in the lineup tonight, it will want to have a better showing.
Threes are wild. For the second night in a row, the Canucks will play 3-on-3 overtime regardless of what the score is at the end of regulation. While the OT may or may not be an official part of the tonight's game, these opportunities to test out what could be a huge difference-maker in the 2015.16 season shouldn't be squandered.
The Vets check in. After resting most of their top players yesterday, it's likely the Sharks will dress a more experienced lineup tonight. After last year's disappointing campaign, they've got as much to prove as anyone. They'll want to set the tone early on in pre-season..
By the Numbers
Combined home team wins in the season series between the Canucks and Sharks last year.
Vancouver's all-time pre-season win percentage (160-153-33).
Head coaches in Sharks franchise history, the latest being Pete DeBoer.
Players remaining on the Sharks training camp roster (12 D, 24 F, 5 G).
Players remaining on the Canucks training camp roster (17 D, 32 F, 5G).
Combined games of NHL experience for Sharks goalies Martin Jones and Alex Stalock, their expected tandem this season.