Tonight’s matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks is an interesting game in the midst of the 82 game grind. Two organizations have had to take “Two Different Roadmaps To Change.” Both teams have come off a tough end of the 2013-14 season with the Canucks missing the playoffs and the Sharks, well you know the story. Both these organizations have had similar records the last three years posting regular season records: Canucks (113-72-27) Sharks (119-77-26). Maybe the only difference between these two teams over the last three years has been playoff success, the Sharks have won 11 playoff games, and the Canucks only one win in the last three years, but both have had a hard time winning their last game of the season with a Stanley Cup.
That being said, both teams had to make changes before they could move forward. The Canucks decided to start at the top by hiring ex-Vancouver Hockey Legend Trevor Linden to be their President, Jim Benning as their new General Manager, and Willie Desjardins as their new Coach. Along with the management changes, they decided to move out hard-nosed forward Ryan Kesler to Anaheim and getting in return Nick Bonino who has gotten off to a great start. Bonino has scored six goals in 13 games, all of those goals have been even strength. Along with Bonino, they’ve added four other players, Luca Sbisa, Linden Vey, Radim Vrbata, and Derek Dorsett. If you count all the points those five players have added it equates to a big addition of 19 goals, 19 assists, 36 points through 13 games. They’ve also added a world-class goaltender Ryan Miller who is off to one of his best starts of his career nine wins, one loss, 2.21 GAA, .917 Sv %, which is also a huge change in where he started last season 1-10-0. With an eight win difference to start the season, it should have a dramatic impact on Miller's season confidence.
The San Jose Sharks have pushed change by committing to giving youth a chance with guys like Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney, Mirco Mueller, and Tye McGinn. They’ve also dispersed leadership, allowing younger players to step in that role, which early in this season seems to be working for guys like Tommy Wingels, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. With the tough schedule to start the season for the Sharks, they’ve had to rely on veterans like Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Anti Niemi to steady the ship, by playing some great hockey to start the season. In addition, Thornton & Niemi have come back this season in even better shape along with great attitudes that seem to be that solid foundation any team would want.
Two points in the standing separate these two teams through 13 games to start this "changed" season. So, what will happen tonight between these two teams, scarred by the past, but making change for the future in hopes of winning that last game of the year? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!