The San Jose Sharks get set to take on the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Please note all games will be carried LIVE locally on CSNCA-HD / 98.5-102.1 FM KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network.
Each game day, sjsharks.com will take a look at the “Game inside the Game” as the Sharks continue their quest toward the Stanley Cup. Line matchups, player vs. player battles, head-to-head stats, and key figures highlighted each game day.
Before Game 1, let’s take a closer look at the special teams for the Sharks and the Canucks.
We hear it all the time….Special teams can make or break a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let’s take a closer look at the Sharks/Canucks power play and penalty kill heading into Game 1 in Vancouver.
- PP this season: 20.1% - 8th in NHL (3-for-14 vs. the Canucks this season)
- PK this season: 85.0% - 6th in NHL
- The Sharks combined PP and PK = 105.1% - the 3rd best in the NHL (behind only Philadelphia and Toronto)
- The Sharks have a much better power play at home (25.6%) than on the road (14.9%).
- San Jose has scored three shorthanded goals (Marleau, Wingels, and Burish) and allowed four.
- PP this season: 15.8% – 22nd in NHL (0-for-12 vs. the Sharks this season)
- PK this season: 81.3% – 12th in NHL
- The Canucks combined PP and PK = 97.1%
- The Canuck penalty kill is 5.9% better on home ice (87.2%) than on the road (81.3%)
- Vancouver has scored two shorthanded goals (H. Sedin, Hamhuis) and allowed three. – the Canucks have not scored a shorthanded goal on the road this season.
Top 5 Sharks on the PP this season:
- Couture – 7 power play goals
- Marleau – 6 power play goals
- Pavelski – 5 power play goals
- Boyle – 5 power play goals
- Irwin – 4 power play goals
Top 5 Canucks on the PP this season:
- Edler – 5 power play goals
- Raymond – 4 power play goals
- D. Sedin – 3 power play goals
- Garrison – 3 power play goals
- Several players tied at 2 power play goals
DID YOU KNOW?
Trivia Time… the Sharks are 114-for-783 all time on the power play (14.9%) and 576-for-714 on the penalty kill (80.7%) in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Remember When… In the only other playoff meeting between the Sharks and the Canucks (Vancouver won 4-1 in Western Conference Final in 2011), both teams put up huge numbers on the power play.
- San Jose went 7-for-22 on the PP (31.8%) – Marleau had three power play goals
- Vancouver went 9-for-24 on the PP (37.5%)
20... Patrick Marleau is the Sharks all-time leader with 20 power play goals in the playoffs with Joe Pavelski 2nd with eight power play markers. Marleau is also tops in shorthanded goals with four!
Twins near the top... Daniel Sedin is 2nd (10ppg) and Henrik is 3rd (9ppg) for most power play goals in the playoffs in franchise history for the Canucks. – watch out for #33 and #22 on the Vancouver PP!
ADVANTAGE GOES TOPP – San Jose
The Sharks PP was lethal to start the season and needs to be real good vs. the Canucks in Round 1. San Jose’s power play was 25.6% at home, but just 14.9% on the road. – which is important to note as the Canucks have home ice. The Sharks have five players (Couture, Marleau, Pavelski, Boyle, Irwin) with at least four power play goals while the Canucks only have two (Edler, Raymond).
Although the Canucks penalty kill had been strong this season (84.0%), the Sharks did have some good looks on the power play in the three regular season games, scoring three times. In this playoff series vs. the Canucks, San Jose does not necessarily need to score on every power play, but they do need to keep the puck deep in the zone with the man advantage and gather momentum with a strong power play chance. The Sharks power play needs to carry the flow!
Don’t overlook the Canucks power play in this series, as they have proven power play scorers in the Sedin twins, Derek Roy, Mason Raymond, and Alexander Edler. However, look for PPG goal specialists Couture, Pavelski, and Marleau to have a big series on the PP for the Sharks.
PK – TIE
On paper, the Sharks (85.0%) and the Canucks (84.0%) are both in the top 10 in the NHL when it comes down to the penalty kill. But, goaltenders can be your best penalty killers with timely saves at the perfect time. San Jose was a perfect 12-for-12 on the penalty kill vs. the Canucks in the regular season, and as I recall, Antti Niemi made some HUGE saves when the Sharks were shorthanded.
The addition of Brad Stuart (leads all Sharks players in shorthanded ice time) has certainly backboned a solid PK season for the Sharks. The Canucks will rely on defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison if they get into penalty trouble vs. the Sharks in the playoffs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Strong special teams play will be again be key for the Sharks in the opening round series vs. the Canucks – especially on the road. The Sharks have too many offensive weapons on the power play, not to be successful, despite the Canucks strong overall penalty kill. Special teams was the achilles heel for the Sharks in their first round exit vs. the Blues last season (the PK allowed at least on PPG in four of five games, including three in Game 3.), but the special teams (especially the PK) is much more approved in 2013. If the Sharks can stay even with the Canucks on special team scoring on the road, and take advantage at home… it will move them one step closer to the Stanley Cup! Solid special teams play is a must for the Sharks in this series and the rest of the playoffs! Let’s take it one power play/penalty kill at time! Go Sharks!