The odds are stacked against the Canucks tonight. I mean that quite literally, as no team in the NHL (or NBA for that matter) is a bigger long-shot to win tonight. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that they’re the home team, but not unexpected given the mumps outbreak affecting the team right now.
- Mumps outbreak: 5 Canucks players could miss Saturday's game
- Canucks are winning the Granlund-Shinkaruk trade
- Canucks to wear rainbow-coloured pride jerseys prior to Tuesday's game for You Can Play Night
With the big, bad Sharks rolling into town, a win would be tough at full strength. Instead, the Canucks will be without Troy Stecher, Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Markus Granlund, and Mike Chaput due to the mumps.
They’re also still without Erik Gudbranson, Sven Baertschi, Jack Skille, Anton Rodin, and Derek Dorsett. Bo Horvat didn’t participate in practice this morning (he’s expected to play), so you have to assume he’s still banged up, as is Brandon Sutter, who isn’t playing on the power play.
That’s why the Canucks have recalled four players from the Utica Comets. Alex Grenier and Evan McEneny joined the team at practice, while Joe Labate and Jordan Subban are in transit today and will arrive before game time.
Canucks flush with mumps. Recall Alex Grenier,Evan McEneny, Jordan Subban, and Joe Labate from Utica.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 25, 2017
Vancouver Canucks (26-28-6, 58 points) vs San Jose Sharks (35-18-7, 77 points)
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Time: 7 pm PT
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||2.30 (28th)||2.73 (15th)|
|Goals against||2.83 (19th)||2.38 (3rd)|
|Power play %||14.5 (28th)||17.1 (22nd)|
|Penalty kill %||78.3 (25th)||81.6 (14th)|
|Shots for||27.6 (29th)||30.5 (11th)|
|Shots against||31.1 (21st)||27.6 (3rd)|
|Faceoff %||51.6 (7th)||48.0 (24th)|
Here’s how the Canucks expect to line-up tonight. Jordan Subban is scheduled to be a healthy scratch, while Ryan Miller gets the start in goal.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Burrows|
What you need to know
1. Bye week hangover
The Canucks haven’t played since Sunday, and didn’t practice Monday through Thursday, as part of their bye week, which is new to the NHL this season.
The bye week allows players a rare opportunity during the middle of the season to do whatever they want. Some use the opportunity to fly off to a sunny destination, while others choose to rest at home.
Only one problem: NHL teams have been hot garbage in their first game back off the break.
Among the 21 teams that have had bye weeks this season, only five have managed to win the first game back. One of those five wins came from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who beat the New York Rangers, a team that was also coming off a bye.
The Canucks get a bit of a break in this instance, as San Jose have also been on their league-mandated break.
Of course, none of the Sharks have been reported to have the mumps so…
2. Tank nation rolls in
Canucks now 8 back. If you weren't before, welcome to Team Tank. Ain't any other side anymore.
— Dig (@Dignooi) February 24, 2017
It’s going to be a rough last quarter of the season.
The Canucks have 22 games remaining and are nine points back of a playoff spot, with three teams to climb over. SportsClubStats.com lists their chance of making the playoffs at 1.8%.
In short, a playoff spot isn’t a realistic possibility for the Canucks.
That means that trading veteran players away before Wednesday’s trade deadline is undoubtedly the right move for this organization.
This could be the last time (or second last time) we see of Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, and Ryan Miller in a Canucks uniform. That will be sad to some, but taking emotion out of it, it’s the right move for the franchise moving forward.
3. San Jose’s time is now
After years of being looked at as playoff chokers, the Sharks silenced a few critics last season, making it to the Stanley Cup Final.
One year later, they look poised to make another run. If their time isn’t now, it may never come for this group.
Joe Thornton is not only long in the beard, he’s long in the tooth. ‘Jumbo’ turns 38 this summer, while Patrick Marleau turns the same age in September. They’re also both unrestricted free agents in July.
Further to that, Brent Burns is having one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a defenceman. Burns (64 points) is challenging Sidney Crosby (66) and Connor McDavid (69) for the NHL scoring title.
If Burns can win the scoring title, he’ll be the first defenceman to win the Art Ross Trophy since Bobby Orr in 1975.
The Sharks are the favourites to come out of the Pacific Division this spring. Don’t be surprised if this is the year they go all the way.
This was always going to be a tough matchup for the Canucks. The Sharks are the better team in every way, and took care of Vancouver easily earlier this month.
Add in the fact that Vancouver will be missing a number of players, and this has all the makings of a blowout.
Sharks win 5-1 and fans turn full attention to becoming sellers at the trade deadline.