Two In Two
The Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks (40-22-5, 85 points) make their first regular season appearance in San Jose tonight. The teams have faced each other twice at GM Place and have split the series. The Canucks won the last meeting, 3-1, on Jan. 28. They’ll face each other at HP Pavilion in the regular season finale on April 7.
The Canucks started a three-game road trip through Arizona and California last night. Vancouver won its fourth straight in a 4-2 decision at Phoenix.
Two games in two nights is a perpetual challenge for any National Hockey League team. San Jose’s plan is clear and obvious: jump on Vancouver early.
“It’s always tough playing back-to-back games,” rookie defenseman Matt Carle said. “Hopefully we can use the size of our forwards down low and pound them early.”
Vancouver has a few players to watch. The Sedin twins, left wing Daniel and center Henrik, have set or are close to personal career highs. Daniel’s 30 goals surpassed his 22 from last year and Henrik is two assists shy of tying the mark (57) he set last year. Second-year blueliner Kevin Bieksa has made a name for himself as he’s scored 11 goals and 26 assists.
And of course, there’s goaltender Roberto Luongo. He’s second in the NHL with 38 wins and fourth in save percentage (.920).
“They’re a good team and they’re on a roll,” Carle said. “It’s a good competitive playoff-type matchup. They have a lot of dangerous players like the Sedin twins and (left wing Markus) Naslund and their new additions like Smolinski (center Bryan, who was acquired from Chicago before the trade deadline).
“They’ve also got a mobile backend with (Sami) Salo, Bieksa, (Mattias) Ohlund and Sopel (Brent, who returned to Vancouver in a trade deadline deal with Los Angeles),” Carle added. “And obviously, their No. 1 guy is their goaltender (Luongo). You really have to be focused, get shots early and get in front of him.”
Vancouver is playing well, but so are the Sharks. After going through a season-long four-game losing streak, San Jose (40-25-2, 82 points, second in Pacific Division) finished their road trip by winning two straight in Dallas and Minnesota and both by shutouts.
Evgeni Nabokov’s 4-0 win in Dallas on March 4 and his 3-0 victory at Minnesota on March 6 marked the first time a Sharks netminder has recorded consecutive shutouts on the road with no home game in between.
“Nabby has been playing unbelievable,” Carle said. “He definitely earned those shutouts. As a team, we’ve been playing well and the last game we didn’t even take a penalty, so we’ve been really disciplined. Hopefully, we can get into that playoff hockey mode.”
A NEW GAME
Defenseman Craig Rivet got a visit from a small contingent of Canadian press after this morning’s skate. Tonight’s game is Rivet’s first against a Canadian-based club following his trade to San Jose from Montreal on Feb. 25.
Rivet answered questions about his D partner and being on a club that plays a different kind of hockey.
On his D partner: “For the most part, I’m playing with a young guy in Matt Carle, who has a lot of talent. He’s a great puck-moving defenseman, skates really well and we’ve been playing well so far.”
On playing hockey the Sharks way: “The style we’re playing here in San Jose is completely opposite from what I was playing in Montreal. Montreal was defensive minded to the 100th degree. It was always on the defensive side, never take chances in the offensive or defensive zone. Everything was towards making sure you were on the defensive side.
“Here, this team plays like a blitz. They’re just kamikaze. They’re going after the puck, they want the D to be in the play, they want the D to be pinching in the offensive zone.
“I’m still trying to adjust to this system. I played a totally different style throughout my career. Now, they’re telling me to do something completely different. It’s a lot of fun. It’s going to take me some time to get used to it, but I’m enjoying myself.”
NO TV TONIGHT
Tonight’s game which was previously scheduled to be broadcast on FSN+, will be a RADIO ONLY broadcast. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on the Sharks flagship station, KFOX 98.5 FM
. KFOX is also accessible by tuning in to Comcast Digital Cable channel 975 (that’s right, radio on TV).
KOMY 1340 AM
KSAC 1240 AM
KAHI 950 AM
KESP 970 AM
KBKY 94.1 FM
KXBX 1270 AM
KATA 1340 AM
Due to scheduling conflicts, the game will NOT to be broadcast by the following Sharks Radio Network Affilates:
KFIG 1430 AM
KRKC 1490 AM
KVON 1440 AM
Finally, the game will also be broadcast on both XM Satellite Radio channel 208 (subscription required) and Sirius Satellite Radio channel 125 (subscription required) and will be available for free on SJSHARKS.com by navigating to the "Listen Live" link on the homepage.