The Canucks play the San Jose Sharks tonight in California, and the team will be hoping to get off one of its worst slides of the season. In the last seven games, the Canucks have won once, against these very Sharks, in one of the best games of the year if you’re a Canucks fan. Other than that game last Friday, there really hasn’t been much to take solace in over the last several matches if you’re a Canucks fan (other than the continued dominance of Brock Boeser, who has remained steady at a point-per-game pace).
Tuesday’s game against Montreal was certainly exciting, yes, but the Canucks allowed 6 non-empty net goals against a Canadiens team that at the time was in the bottom four in terms of goals-scored per game, right next to the Canucks. What does that mean against a Sharks team that’s one of the best in the league in terms of protecting its own net? Sure, the Canucks ran up four goals on San Jose last week, but any Vancouver player will tell you that the team was fired up beyond belief for that one. After all, it did come two days after a listless home effort against Nashville.
Will the Sharks be similarly fired up for tonight’s contest? It’s very possible. The Sharks gave up 5 goals to Edmonton (currently one of the worst teams in the league) on Monday and probably smell blood in the water in what’s essentially a revenge game against Vancouver.
The Canucks’ goaltending hasn’t been strong (it’ll almost certainly be Jacob Markstrom back between the pipes after a rough effort from Anders Nilsson against Montreal), but the defence must take some of the blame. Without Chris Tanev (and with Erik Gudbranson), the Canucks routinely guided the way to their own net, letting Montreal set up odd-man rushes time and again.
Nikolay Goldobin will head up to the press box again for reasons unknown, and won’t face his former team. If Travis Green thinks Nic Dowd is a better bet in any aspect of the game other than faceoffs (and even then, he was 25 percent against Montreal) than Goldobin, he’s very wrong.
This could be a rough one. San Jose will be fired up, and while the Canucks know they can beat this team, the games against Montreal and the Sharks are probably outliers for the offence
The slide continues, and the Canucks will need to look long and hard at moving Gudbranson (and possibly unrestricted free agent to be Thomas Vanek) before the Christmas roster freeze.