Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 5/1/13
It’s in the air! Smell that? No, not that, keep smelling. The smell I’m talking about is that of the playoffs. While it may not seem like it around the city of Vancouver or anywhere you may live, it is most certainly here. The Canucks are fresh off of their fifth straight Northwest Division title win which has secured them home ice for at least this round of the playoffs. The Canucks start the playoffs on a two game losing streak, the last game of the season saw them lose 7-2 in an absolute ****-kicking from the basement dwelling Edmonton Oilers. But the team has moved past it, I’m sure and are looking a head to tomorrows game against the San Jose Sharks. Can the Canucks beat the Sharks? Yeah, sure, why not? I mean, you could ask me if I could do a back flip and I’d say yes, I’d try at least, which is what I assume the Canucks are going to do against the Sharks. Can the Canucks beat the Sharks? Try. Alright, well maybe they’ll do more than just go out and give it the old college effort, I mean there’s a lot on the line here – The Canucks core isn’t getting any younger and the coaching staff isn’t riding the gravy train they’ve ridden in years past. Something needs to happen this year with this team; I know it, you know it, my five year old son knows it too. The Canucks will need to play and win four 60 minute games, something they didn’t quite do too much of this year. I know that isn’t exactly hard hitting analysis, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be. The Canucks needs to put together strong games where they out work their opponent and win, because lets face it – as Canucks fans we haven’t really been graced with puck luck by the hockey gods over the years, right? Special Teams Power Play Remember when the Canucks power play was just about the worst? Well it still is, though I would put 22nd in the league slightly above the “just the worst” line. The teams powerplay, while still frustrating to watch at times has gotten much better. A healthy Ryan Kesler has helped that, as well as Jason Garrison being able to break bones on shots hit the net and bury some of his chances. While the whistles may indeed be put away in the playoffs it doesn’t mean that when the Canucks are gifted two minutes with the man advantage they should just hope for the best, they need to show those flashes of brilliance more often than once and a while. It won’t be easy either, the Sharks finished the season with the 6th best penalty kill. Penalty Kill In the same vein, the Canucks penalty kill will have its work cut out for it as San Jose ended the regular season with the 7th best power play in the league. The Sharks stack their top unit with the likes of Marleau, Thornton, Couture, Pavelski and Dan Boyle. Those five players are responsible for 29 of San Jose’s 34 power play goals for this season. The best way for Vancouver to beat San Jose at the special teams game is to stay out of the penalty box. Avoid the after whistle BS and just play the game. When given the chance those five players will bury you when up a man. Vancouver meeting the Sharks is going to be as easy as people are hoping for Niemi Antti Niemi finished the regular season tied for first in the NHL in wins with 24 and started 43 of his teams 48 games this year. He also has an impressive 2.16GAA and a .924SV%. The Canucks are going to need to get bodies in front of Niemi as often as possible, he takes away a lot of the lower part of the net when he plays so you’re going to have to make him fight to see those pucks which could be hard working, dirty, grinding, garbage goals for the Canucks. How bad would it be to hear “Canucks ran into a hot goalie in the first round” all summer…again? Just win! The Sharks have a top ten power play, penalty kill and a top 3 goalie. Does this mean they’re unbeatable? No, but it doesn’t mean that Vancouver meeting the Sharks is going to be as easy as people are hoping for. This series could fall under the same lines as a Blues and Kings series. A low scoring, hard hitting and in other words boring series. That is unless the Canucks gets stupid, take unusual amounts of penalties and their special teams fall a part and they hand this one to San Jose. While that may seem unlikely, in order for Vancouver to take this series, and I think they will, it will take four complete games, no farting around, no relying on anything other than outplaying their opponent. I hope I’m not wrong, but I see the Canucks winning this in six games. Here’s hopin’, right? Go Nucks Go! CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS BLOG IN THE CLUBHOUSE TODAY!
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