I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Sharks 2

The Canucks had this one circled on the calendar. After having about as much success in California last season as the Joad family, the club was hellbent on preventing this season from becoming The Grapes of Wrath II: The Wrathening. And that mission began Thursday night in San Jose, as the Canucks looked to prove they could hang with their Pacific Division rivals. Did they succeed? Well. Sort of.

The Canucks were thoroughly outplayed in San Jose. Outshot 37-19, and out-attempted a whopping 80-23. They blocked more shots than they attempted. In terms of possession, it wasn’t close. And yet they won. It’s the most undeserved W since the word “wrong”, as in, “the Canucks leaving San Jose with two points tonight just seems wrong.” But it happened. I saw it. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, September 23, 2014

There’s no denying that the Sharks were the better team in this game. They out-shot the Canucks like crazy, particularly in the ugly second period, when they tallied 18 shots on goal to the Canucks’ 5. But really, in a pre-season game, you’re not necessarily looking at how the team performed as a whole, but instead at how individual players performed in a given role and how they fit with their teammates.

The result itself doesn’t actually matter…oh, who am I kidding. It was satisfying as hell to see the Canucks beat the Sharks, even if it was just in pre-season and even if the Sharks out-shot the Canucks 34-to-20. The Canucks got better as the game went on and they actually scored goals.

Look, I love preseason hockey, because it’s not no hockey. No hockey is dull and boring. No hockey is lame. No hockey is the worst. Give me preseason hockey over no hockey any day of the week, especially this day of the week, because on this day, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, November 14, 2013

Some losses hurt just a little: a tiny pinch that lasts a split second, then is gone. Other losses, the blowouts, are more of a dull ache that can be pushed aside with a little effort. But then there are the truly painful losses: the ones that never should have happened. That was this one, as the Canucks were the better team for the vast majority of the game, but uncaring fate snatched the game out of their hands.

This game was more painful than a window factory. It was more painful than that pun. Trips to the dentist hurt less, because they at least give you a sticker, a toothbrush, and your pick from the treasure chest at the end of your visit. Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” hurt more — because, dude, it’s the man in black — but this game came close. I put on “Someone Like You” by Adele and cried after I watched this game.

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The Week Ahead: Sharks, Stars, and Panthers pay a visit to Vancouver, presumably to play hockey

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

This coming week, the Canucks will face the Sharks, Stars, and Panthers at home.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, November 7, 2013

The Vancouver Canucks went into San Jose eager to halt their nine-game losing streak to the Sharks. At the same time, Henrik Sedin was looking to keep his 12-game point streak rolling. With the Canucks loading up their top line, it seemed likely that they wouldn’t be able to break the former streak without continuing the latter.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. The secondary and tertiary scoring came through for the Canucks, with two goals each from the second and third lines, while the primary scoring took a break. Henrik failed to register a point for only the second time this season, but the Canucks still beat the Sharks handily, ending both streaks.

My streak of watching games, however, remains unbroken, mainly because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, October 10, 2013

So the Sharks are apparently going to be pretty decent this season. One game removed from destroying Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers, 9-2, it’s understandable that they would be a little cocky coming into Vancouver. Turns out they had every right to be.

With their 4-1 victory at Rogers Arena, they have now out-scored their opponents 21-5. The Canucks, unfortunately, have been that opponent twice already, leading to some consternation among Canucks fans, particularly since that makes 9 straight losses to the Sharks, 11 if you include the pre-season. In my opinion, though, it’s time to stop worrying about that. Why worry about something inevitable. It’s clear to me that the Sharks are going to go 82-0 this season and will never lose to the Canucks again.

No point fretting about it. Just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. After all, the Canucks will lose 5 games to the Sharks, but so will the rest of the Pacific Division. No big deal. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, October 3, 2013

When the first game of the regular season is a loss, it’s tempting to keep talking about the process, individual performances, and positive signs like it’s still the pre-season. After all, it’s a long season with plenty of time for the Canucks to adjust to a new system and for the roster to evolve into its final form. Like a Pokemon, it takes a lot of battles, a trade, or…uh, an elemental stone. Okay, the metaphor breaks down a little.

In any case, I say forget being level-headed. This is the first game in months where the result actually matters. I say we revel in this loss. Let it hurt. Get upset. Allow the loss to get under your skin and piss you off. You can wait until tomorrow to realize that it’s just one game out of 82. For now, let this game matter, because games that matter are way more fun than games that don’t matter.

This game? The one that mattered? I watched this game.

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I Watched This (Pre-Season) Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, September 24, 2013

In many ways, the pre-season is about finding out what doesn’t work. You find out which prospects aren’t ready for the NHL just yet, you find out which line combinations are unlikely to gel, and you find out which defencemen should never, ever, ever be paired together.

In this game, we got the latter. Andrew Alberts and Yannick Weber are, individually, reasonable depth options on defence: not NHL regulars, but players that can cycle in and out of the bottom pairing as needed. Together, they are an endless void of despair and suffering. I was provoked to hyperbole when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, May 7, 2013

Trailing by a goal and facing elimination heading into the third period, Ryan Kesler made it very clear what the Vancouver Canucks needed to do to keep their scant playoff hopes alive. “We just got to go out,” he told Farhan Lalji, all fiery determination and temerity, “and compete like bastards.”

Now, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure how a bastard competes. Did he mean the Jon Snow type of bastard? Or the Inglourious, Nazi-killing type of basterd? Personally, I would have appreciated Kesler spelling it out loud instead of just saying it.

Either way, the Canucks did indeed come out in the third period like a group of lovechildren and, by the eleven-minute mark, they had turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Unfortunately, Kesler’s speech had also inspired the officials to officiate like bastards. Two illegitimate powerplay goals against later, the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated. For the last time in 2013, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, May 5, 2013

While Roberto Luongo played very well through the first two games of the series and wasn’t to blame for either loss, you had to know he wasn’t happy about giving up three goals in each game and particularly one in the final minute in game two to send it to overtime. You had to know that he would go into game three hungry to improve upon his performance.

He absolutely succeeded, shutting out the Sharks, looking as confident and collected as ever. He finished with 10 saves and…wait. 10 saves? That can’t be right. Surely the Sharks weren’t held to just 10 shots in a playoff game. And what’s this about the Sharks being up 3-0 in the series? Something’s not right here.

Oh. Luongo didn’t start. I swear, I was paying attention when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, May 3, 2013

One day while growing up on my parents’ farm, I was playing outside with a couple friends. It was summer and were having a water fight, running through the fields. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I was laughing. Life could not have been better.

Then I ran full-speed, directly into an electric fence along the cattle run. It hit me directly in the gut, simultaneously taking my feet out from under me and shocking me. Normally when you get shocked by an electric fence, you pull away immediately. Since I was running, I couldn’t pull away from the wire. Also, I was wet from the water fight. I went from joyful laughing to dry heaving in an instant. It felt like I had been punched in the gut and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get enough oxygen in my lungs.

The end of this game was like an electric wire to the gut of the Canucks, except it wasn’t a fence built for cows — it was one of the fences from Jurassic Park. I needed Dr. Alan Grant to perform CPR after I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, May 1, 2013

The playoffs didn’t exactly open the way that the Canucks hoped they would. What they wanted, and what most in Vancouver wanted, I think, was for the Canucks to kick off the 2013 postseason with 16 consecutive wins. Instead, they started with one loss, meaning it will take them 17 games at least to win the Stanley Cup. Nuts. So close.

What went wrong in this one? Nothing whatsoever, if you completely discount the 3rd period, where everything went wrong. If the game were 20 minutes (and it started after a 20 minute warm-up period) the Canucks win this game. Unfortunately, playing 60 minutes is one of the rules of NHL hockey — even in the playoffs, when a bunch of other rules are abandoned — so the Canucks lost this game. And I watched this game.

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2013 Playoff Preview: Round One, Canucks vs Sharks

In the wild, orca whales tend to kill and eat sharks, including great white sharks. In the battle of Free Willy versus Jaws, Willy would win.

On the ice, however, it’s a lot tougher to call. The Vancouver Canucks will face the San Jose Sharks in round one of the playoffs, with the first game starting in just a couple hours. Normally, this is when we’d look at the season series to see how the two teams match up, but the season series isn’t particularly useful this time around.

Sure, the Sharks won all three of their meetings this season, but those games came before Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler were in the lineup and only one of those games featured the Sharks’ Brent Burns at forward, where he’s excelled. Also, Cory Schneider started all three of those games and he won’t be in net for game one of the playoffs, with Roberto Luongo slated to start with Schneider our due to injury.

The two teams have changed significantly throughout the season, with the Sharks shedding multiple players before the trade deadline and the Canucks continually rotating injured players in and out of the lineup. So, what can we expect from these two teams? How do they matchup? Let’s break it down as best we can:

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Canucks get Round 1 date with San Jose Sharks, who are, we remind you, bad

With their loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, the Sharks close out the 2013 season as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. This means a first-round playoff date with the third seed, your Vancouver Canucks.

We’ll have plenty of coverage leading up to this series (as well as during it), just as we always do, but for tonight, we would simply like to remind you of something.

This post originally appeared on May 13, 2011, in advance of the Canucks’ Western Conference Final series versus the Sharks two years ago. It was true then and it’s true now: the San Jose Sharks are bad.

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Who would the Canucks rather face in the playoffs?

With 8 games remaining in the regular season, it seems fairly certain that the Canucks will once again win the Northwest division. The Canucks are trending in the right direction with the addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler and are now six points up on the second place Minnesota Wild, who have lost four of their last five games.

Since the Canucks aren’t likely to catch the Anaheim Ducks, who are seven points ahead, in the standings, the Canucks will finish as the third seed in the Western Conference and face the sixth seed in the first round of the playoffs. At this point, any one of six teams could finish sixth in the West: the Kings, Sharks, Blues, Wild, Red Wings, and Coyotes, with the outside possibility of the Stars or Blue Jackets.

So, which of those teams would the Canucks rather play in the first round? Who would they rather avoid?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, April 1, 2013

The best thing that can be said about this game is that it wasn’t as bad as the last one. Like their game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the Canucks got soundly outplayed by the San Jose Sharks and similarly succumbed to their opposition thanks to a flurry of goals in a short period of time.

Unlike their game against the Oilers, however, the Canucks actually showed some gumption, battling back by creating scoring chances, scoring goals, and coming just short of tying the game in the final minutes. Thanks to that, it was a lot more enjoyable when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, January 27, 2013

The Canucks beat the Ducks on Friday, despite getting outplayed at even-strength, by essentially being jerks: they earned powerplays and cashed in with the man-advantage. You could tell right off the opening puck drop, or rather, before the opening puck drop, that they were going to try to do the same thing against the Sharks.

It half-worked: the Canucks did get outplayed at even-strength. Unfortunately, the powerplay floundered, fizzled, sputtered, and misfired, getting only 7 shots on 7 opportunities and Cory Schneider couldn’t bail the team out fast enough when the defence shot holes in the boat. I watched their gameplan fall apart when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, January 21, 2012

It’s amazing what a three-day break between games will do for a hockey team. For the first time in a while, the Canucks actually looked fresh to start the game. At even-strength, the Canucks dominated possession and out-scored the Sharks 4-1. Unfortunately, the referees called some penalties and Logan Couture plays for the Sharks, scoring a shorthanded and a powerplay goal to keep the game close.

The Canucks at even-strength and special teams were like two different teams playing two different games. I watched both of them when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, January 2, 2012

While the Canucks were outplayed for large portions of this game, you have to keep one thing in mind: 4 days ago, the Canucks were in San Jose defeating the Sharks in a tough overtime game. In between, they had two more games. The Sharks had none. The Sharks were fresher than a perfectly cleaned kitchen where someone is brewing mint tea. The Canucks, on the other hand, just sprayed Febreze everywhere and hoped for the best. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, December 28, 2011

When the NHL announced their plans for realignment, some people (namely us) bemoaned the loss of games against the Chicago Blackhawks, which are always full of emotion and skill. The upshot is that the we’ll get more games between the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks, which are always a highlight of the schedule.

Quite frankly, it would have been disappointing if the Sharks didn’t tie up this game and force it into overtime. Otherwise it would have been just another ho-hum Canucks victory and I would have fallen asleep trying to write about it afterwards. Instead, I’m wide awake because I watched this game.

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Part of me wonders if the Canucks decided to only dress the Sedins for one game out of the seven preseason contests they’ve played so far in an attempt to make us miss them. At the end of last season, all Canuck fans could do was grumble about the twins, but after being reminded Wednesday night of how much better they are than anyone else on the team, another game without them was an exercise in dull pain. The Sedinless Canuck team dressed for the penultimate preseason game was about as threatening as a kitten in a felt hat, and nowhere near as adorable.

I ask you, is there anything worse than the realization that you just sat through a three-hour preseason shutout? No. There is only shame, and I feel this shame, because I watched this game.

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After being frustrated about playing in a game with such an obvious talent disparity, Cory Schneider commented that, despite suffering a minor hip strain during the game, he “didn’t want to put Eddie in that situation”. Unfortunately, Despite Schneider’s best efforts, Eddie Lack ended up in exactly that situation. The Canucks once again iced a lineup devoid of NHL talent, this time against a Sharks lineup that included Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, and Douglas Murray, along with an assortment of other NHL talent.

Surprisingly, then, Eddie Lack managed to keep things close despite some early struggles and this version of the Canucks competed hard and came just short against the star-studded Sharks. I watched this game.

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Like “Henry the 8th”, it’s second verse, same as the first. Once again we find ourselves nearing the end of the NHL offseason with no contract for Kyle Wellwood in sight. This season it is even more inexplicable than last season. Long time Bulies will remember my impassioned defense of Kyle Wellwood’s defensive abilities after the 2009-10 season, pointing out that he led the entire NHL in the admittedly oddball statistic of Ratio of Goals Against to Total Time on Ice. To put it simply: when Kyle Wellwood was on the ice in that season, the opposition didn’t score. At least, not very often.

Instead of other NHL teams noticing his surprising defensive responsibility, the epic saga of Wellwood’s World happened, as Welly signed in the KHL, saw the coach who had him signed fired and replaced, rode the bench, was released from his KHL contract, had a baby, signed a contract with the St. Louis Blues, was picked up off re-entry waivers by the San Jose Sharks, and made it to the Western Conference Final, where he was eliminated by his former team, the Vancouver Canucks. It was a crazy, crazy year for the easy-going Wellwood, and likely one he doesn’t want to repeat.

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Third Man In is a feature that reminds the world that PITB actually has three writers and occasionally, that third writer comes flying into the fray with his gloves off, looking for a piece of the action. Usually on Friday. This week, Qris talks about boredom, experience, and the fact that Dave Nonis’s signature is no longer on any of Mike Gillis’s contracts.

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On May 24th, 1994, Greg Adams scored in double overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final to take the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final. Tonight, exactly 17 years later, Kevin Bieksa did the same. For only the third time in their 40-year history, the Vancouver Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final. After winning Round One in 7 games, Round Two in 6, and Round Three in 5, are the Canucks destined to sweep the Eastern Conference Champions? Is this the (Stanley Cup) Final Countdown? 7-6-5-4. It has a nice ring to it. But before we look to the future, let’s reminisce about the past. The recent past. The Canucks just won a hockey game. I watched this game.

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