Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks
The Vancouver Canucks lead the San Jose Sharks 2-0 in the best of 7 series. Tonight, the series moves to San Jose where the Sharks are a -135 favorite. The over/under goal total is set at 5.5 goals.
The potent Vancouver offense finally broke loose for one of the first times in this postseason in a 7-3 rout of San Jose to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals. A 2-2 first period quickly turned in to an offensive show with the Sharks simply looking like a team that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Six different players found the back of the net for the Canucks but there as there was no shortage of offensive stars, Daniel Sedin paced the assault with a pair of tallies while Chris Higgins scored once and added an assist. Mason Raymond, Bieksa, Aaron Rome and Raffi Torres also lit the lamp while Dan Hamhuis and Henrik Sedin each had a trio of helpers. Roberto Luongo survived a shaky opening period and was solid thereafter with 28 saves in the victory.
The Sharks history of disappointment in the conference finals was extended another game as they now stand at 2-10. San Jose received goals from Patrick Marleau, Ben Eager and Logan Couture while Antti Niemi was blasted for all seven Vancouver goals on 38 shots. The blowout was not indicative of the quality play from both sides through the first 40 minutes of action as this one appeared to be headed for a frenetic conclusion. Ironically, the Sharks drew first blood much to the dismay of the home crowd but the Canucks held a 2-1 lead before SJ knotted it at two apiece heading in to the middle frame. Ironically a Bieksa tally at the 12:05 mark was the only scoring in the second period as both defenses and net minders appeared to have settled down.
That feeling quickly went by the wayside when Higgins got the scoring barrage underway with a power play goal eight minutes in to the third. It was all downhill from there with Sedin, Rome and Raymond finding the back of the net in almost rapid succession. In only five minutes it was an insurmountable 7-2 bulge with Eager adding a score to end the game. Right now Vancouver has done a solid job throughout the playoffs defending home ice with a 6-3 record after Wednesday’s win. San Jose is a respectable 4-4 as visitors but that will have to change if they are to advance to their first ever Stanley Cup finals.
It’s obvious what has to change from a San Jose perspective going forward because quite honestly not much went their way after the second period. Better goaltending from Niemi and some better performance from the blue liners as a whole would be a good place to start. One bit of good news is a change in venue to the Shark Tank has got to help but the very same thing can and will happen if the Sharks are a step slow and don’t win the battles for loose pucks because Vancouver is just too good otherwise. I’m leaning towards taking the over 5.5 goals here.