Better late than never.
With a shade over 30 games left for each team, this is the first time the San José Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks will meet this season. They will meet four more times over the next two months, with the Canucks playing the Sharks four times over an 18 game stretch starting on February 25.
By then, we could have a much clearer idea of where the Canucks sit in the playoff picture. They have done well in picking up points over the easy part of their schedule, going 9-3-3 since the Christmas break. However, they laid an egg during their last game before the All-Star break against the Arizona Coyotes, and sit three points out of the last Wild Card spot.
The Sharks are comfortably sitting first overall in the Pacific Division, slightly ahead of both the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers. They have a chance to give themselves some breathing room against the Canucks tonight. The Sharks are coming to town hot having won seven of their last eight games. That includes six wins in a row from January 16th to January 24th. They took advantage of a weaker schedule, with the Los Angeles Kings being the only current playoff team they faced during those six victories.
San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017, Rogers Arena, 7:00 PM PST
Broadcast Channels: SNP, CSN-CA
Season Series: First Meeting of the Season
San Jose Sharks: 32-17-2, 66 Points, 2nd in the Western Conference
Hot Players: Brent Burns (Most points among NHL defencemen in January), Patrick Marleau (Four-game point streak, six goals in last 4 GP), Logan Couture (Six-game point streak)
Key Injuries: Dylan DeMelo, Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brendan Dillon – David Schlemko
Vancouver Canucks: 23-21-6, 52 Points, 10th in Western Conference
Hot Players: Ryan Miller (Best save percentage in NHL since Christmas)
Key Injuries: Jannik Hansen, Ben Hutton, Anton Rodin, Erik Gudbranson, Derek Dorsett
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Alex Burrows
Markus Granlund – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Brendan Gaunce – Michael Chaput – Jack Skille
Alex Edler – Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa – Chris Tanev
Nikita Tryamkin – Philip Larsen
1) The last time that the Canucks played at Rogers Arena, Henrik Sedin stole the show by recording his 1000th career point. Tonight, Patrick Marleau will try to steal the milestone spotlight. The 37-year-old is one goal away from 500 in his career. Perhaps it has come faster than Marleau expected, since the veteran has six goals in his last four games. That includes a surreal four-goal period against the Colorado Avalanche on January 23rd.
2) With almost a week off, Ryan Miller will likely get the start tonight for the Canucks. He’s the sole reason why the Canucks are hanging around in the playoff picture. Miller has a .945 save percentage since Christmas, best in the league over that time span. He’s played like the Canucks MVP, will all due respect to Bo Horvat. It will be interesting to see if he can keep this run going, or if it’s just a hot streak.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 2, 2017
3) Suffice to say it has been a while since these two teams played. The Sharks made it to Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final since then while the Canucks have….let’s not get into that. The last time these two teams played, the Canucks came out on top 4-2. The win broke a nine-game losing streak for the club, and they would go on to record their first three-game win streak of the season after that.
4) As mentioned before, the Canucks took advantage of a soft part of their schedule. It was enough to get them back in the playoff picture, but the next part of their schedule will determine their status as a playoff contender. Of the 12 games they will play in February, the Buffalo Sabres and the Detroit Red Wings are the only non-playoff teams they will face.
5) The Canucks wish they had the Sharks lay-up schedule. Unlike Vancouver, San Jose faces only two playoff teams during their 11-game February schedule. They have two games against the Boston Bruins, and one game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
6) If they want to stay in the playoff picture, the Canucks need to take advantage of home games. They will head out on a six-game road trip after Saturday night, where they boast the league’s second-worst road record. At Rogers Arena, the Canucks are 7-0-1 in their last eight games.