With three games left in the exhibition campaign, there are still questions abound with regards to who will be in the lineup when the Canucks begin the regular season on October 7 in Calgary. A lot of that has to do with the play of the potential rookies who are making their case that they are NHL-ready. Last night, it was Jared McCann who shone again in the spotlight tallying his first goal of the pre-season on a power play to lift the Canucks to a 1-0 home win over the Coyotes. Also impressing were blue-liner Ben Hutton, who notched his team-leading fourth assist and fourth point of pre-season, and forward Jake Virtanen, who finished with a game-high six hits while not looking out of place skating with the Sedin twins.
There is a possibility all three of those aforementioned youngsters could see action again tonight in San Jose taking on a Sharks team that is expected to feature most of their top stars including the likes of Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture, and Burns. Based on who we saw – or rather didn't see – yesterday, tonight's lineup will likely also include veterans Alex Edler and Chris Tanev on the back end, and Jannik Hansen, Derek Dorsett, and Brandon Prust up front.
Puck drop at 7:30 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)
With this being the third time the Canucks have faced San Jose already in pre-season, you'd think that Vancouver is quite familiar by now with the Sharks. Of course, this is still the exhibition season which means rosters can look quite different compared to previous games. With that said, the Canucks could see a few new faces in tonight's contest that they've yet to encounter including an old friend in Raffi Torres. Torres made his pre-season debut on Friday for San Jose, his first game action in nearly 17 months. He hadn't played since the 2014 playoffs and missed all of last year dealing with a knee injury. In fact, since joining the Sharks at the 2013 trade deadline, Torres has only suited up in 16 regular season games with the club. The Sharks seem intent on bringing him along slowly so he may or may not figure into the lineup tonight but his presence would bring a physical element which the Sharks would surely appreciate.
Other names that could also factor into the lineup tonight that the Canucks have yet to see are top line centre Joe Thornton and netminder Alex Stalock. Thornton has made just one appearance so far in the pre-season although it was a fairly impressive debut as he notched two assists. There will be plenty of eyes on him this season and he tries to bounce back from a subpar 2014.15 campaign by his standards. Stalock, meanwhile, is the netminder battling newcomer Martin Jones for the starting gig. Jones has only made one pre-season appearance to date so you can imagine he's chomping at the bit to have another shot to show the new-look coaching staff why he should be the number one guy come opening night. (Update: The Sharks are expected to start North Vancouver's Martin Jones in goal).
Keys to the Game
Don't be intimidated. For the youngsters battling for a roster spot, going up against a veteran-laden Sharks squad may seem like a daunting task. They can't get too starstruck, however, and have to find a way to play their game.
Don't get into penalty trouble. The Canucks took just three trips to the sin bin in their last meeting against the Sharks and were still burned twice by San Jose's power play. The Sharks have been pretty potent on the man-advantage so far in pre-season so the Canucks would be wise to limit their opportunities.
Finish on a high. Tonight marks the final pre-season game at the Shark Tank for San Jose and, as they don't make their home debut until October 10, it will be nearly two weeks before their home fans get to see their team again. The Sharks will want to give them something to look forward to when they return.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Vancouver's all-time pre-season win percentage (161-155-34).
Consecutive seasons Joe Pavelski has led the Sharks in scoring.
Times the Canucks and Sharks will meet in the regular season, all in Vancouver's final 22 games.
Seasons of Sharks hockey being celebrated this year.
Players remaining on the Sharks training camp roster (8 D, 17 F, 2 G).
Players remaining on the Canucks training camp roster (10 D, 18 F, 3 G).