OK, let’s get this out of the way:
The San Jose Sharks are atrocious.
They’re going to finish this year as one of the all-time bad NHL squads.
They have no offence to speak of. The Canucks’ 10-1 annihilation of them on Thursday night at the SAP Center in San Jose was within three minutes of becoming the third time in four games the Sharks have been shutout.
They’ve scored just 10 goals in 10 games on the season.
It’s no surprise they’ve yet to win.
And it wasn’t a surprise that the Vancouver Canucks raced out to an early lead on Thursday night, either.
The visiting team gave their hosts a true and total thumping, the likes of which have been rarely seen in team history.
The Canucks have a big month ahead of itself. They are very, very busy, playing 15 games in November.
So getting a win like this, in a game they had to win, is essential. There are going to be some bumps in the road ahead against real NHL teams.
When you’re playing glorified AHL squads, you must take those wins.
“I cannot recall a game, in my 26 years of calling Canucks hockey, a game like this,” Sportsnet’s John Shorthouse said, flatly, after Anthony Beauvillier scored his second goal of the third period, the Canucks’ 10th goal of the game.
The important item was the Canucks racing out to a 4-0 start, showing no mercy against a hapless foe.
Even with their foot off the gas, they scored twice in the final frame.
Remember ‘The Spot’
Brock Boeser’s first goal, a one-timer off the left wing on the power play, was a throwback tally.
From nearly the day he showed up in Vancouver in 2017, the case has been made for Boeser to be wiring shots from The Spot, as it was once dubbed. Alex Edler, who is one of the greatest defencemen in team history, was the comic villain in those days.
Obviously the current Canucks have many options to play on the left flank, chiefly J.T. Miller, but with Boeser clearly back to his old goal-scoring self, maybe we’ll see him there more often.
Heck, he was working on one-timers from the Spot in the morning skate.
Boeser got a second goal when he batted the puck out of mid air, something he’s made a habit of doing over his career.
O Captain, my Captain.
The Quinn Hughes vengeance tour takes no prisoners.
Hughes had a goal and four assists, tying the club record for points by a defenceman in a game.
The last time the Canucks hit double-digits goals in a game was March 1, 1992, when they thrashed the Flames 11-0.
Just so happened it was your author’s 11th birthday party and, yes, that group of Grade 5 boys was delighted.
Do Grade 5s still watch Canucks games? If they do, perhaps there is a similar group of equally-thrilled 10-year-olds.
Lafferty turns the corner
Sam Lafferty has displayed a unique talent since joining the Canucks: He’s really good at turning the corner on defencemen and getting the puck into a strong spot.
He’s a handy scoring threat from the Canucks’ depth lines as a result.
“I’ve been really working on that,” Lafferty told Postmedia on Wednesday about his penchant for getting around defencemen.
Even before he landed in Vancouver, it had been pointed out to Lafferty that his combination of skating quickness and his stature — he’s powerfully built and reasonably tall — was an intriguing combination, one that he could use to gain a foothold on a defenceman.
“It’s about getting into the defenceman’s hands,” he explained.
He’s used it very effectively so far this season. His goal, the game’s seventh, saw him dart behind the net, but it came off outside speed and a flailing defender.
As much as Rick Tocchet may have wanted a shutout for his goalie, there’s no way you can challenge an opposition goal when you’ve already scored 10.
It looked like Thatcher Demko, who had very little work on the night until the very end, was interfered with as he moved to stop the lone Sharks’ goal — somehow Fabian Zetterlund’s third of the year — but the Canucks’ coaching staff shook off any notion of asking the referees to review the play.
The Petey benefit
Elias Pettersson didn’t practise Wednesday.
He barely skated Thursday morning during the morning skate.
If he’s dealing with a small injury, something Tocchet implied on Wednesday, this was the kind of game that was perfect for load management.
And that was very much the case for Pettersson, who played just 14:32 on the night.
He still managed to pick up three points. And he made an outstanding pickup of an aerial pass from Andrei Kuzmenko, ahead of Ilya Mikheyev’s goal early in the second period, Vancouver’s fifth of the night.
Pettersson now has 19 points on the season, one back of Jack Hughes. He’s on pace for 156 points, the most since Mario Lemieux’s 161 in 1995-96.
J.T. Miller, who scored again in this game, now has 16 points, good for fourth in scoring.
Somehow, in a game like this …
The funny thing about the Canucks’ offensive luck so far this season is it hasn’t found their role players much.
Still, it was big for Beauvillier to finally score. Pius Suter managed his first as a Canuck as well.
The stars won’t continue to score at this torrid pace and when they dip, the Canucks will need something from their role players.
The Sharks are Real Bad
There’s no depth there. They can’t score.
It’s no wonder so few fans are showing up.
Attendance was already down 20 per cent at SAP Center last year.
It looks even worse this year.
The decline started before the pandemic, but the pandemic had a huge impact. Fans were slow to return because of nervousness about exposure to COVID-19 in public spaces, but those fears have eased.
Now it’s just about not wanting to watch bad hockey.
And given what’s on display, who can blame them?
Maybe Sharks fan Neil Young can write a sad song about them.
Just how bad are they?
There’s some competition in the race for worst all-time NHL team season. In the expansion era, the 1974-75 Washington Capitals were truly atrocious.
They won just eight games that year. The 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets won just nine, but at least they could score.
Those Caps scored just 2.26 goals per game. The thing was, they gave up 5.58 goals per game.
That’s a miserable existence.
The Sharks probably won’t be as bad as those Capitals, but they’re at real risk of being as bad offensively.
Even worse, the Sharks are in the midst of one of the worst starts to a season in NHL history. Now, one of their games was an overtime loss, so their record is hard to equate with teams of old, but it’s still notable that the worst-ever start to a season was the war-reduced 1943-44 New York Rangers, who lost their first 11 games of the season.
The 2015-16 Columbus Blue Jackets had the worst start of the modern era, outright losing the first eight games of the season.
After Andrei Kuzmenko scored his goal in the second period, he bumped into Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who looked unsettled by the hit.
Rather than celebrate his goal, the Canucks’ sixth of the game, Kuzmenko went to check on the Sharks goalie.
No Sharks seemed to check on him, though.
Is that a team that’s already dead inside?
This is no way to treat a kid
Twitter is mostly a hellscape now, but there did seem to be a movement on the social media site now known as X to get the kid something as compensation for such an awful first experience:
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