Vancouver Canucks (6-2-1) at San Jose Sharks (0-8-1)
When/where: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. SAP Center
TV: SN Pacific. Radio: Sportsnet 650
The buzz: The Canucks are coming off a win that was just about their most untidy of the season. Wednesday they were focused in on getting back to the good things they have been doing. The Sharks are awful. They have scored nine goals in nine games and given up 35. Simply put, they are not a good team. The Canucks are taking themselves seriously — this is a game they must win.
The history: The Canucks swept last season’s series 4-0, taking the first two games of the year in overtime, then trouncing the Sharks in the latter two games 6-2 and 7-2. Things don’t look much better for the Sharks, who are low on talent as it is but are missing captain Logan Couture, who is slowly working his way back from an off-season injury that has only been described as “lower-body.”
The hope: The Canucks rebound from Tuesday’s mess and get back to the “staples” Tocchet has so often underlined.
The fear: The winless Sharks finally put together a competitive performance and get a bunch of luck to upset the Canucks.
The top guns: Elias Pettersson was named the second star of the month by the NHL. He has posted 16 points in nine games so far. J.T. Miller, who was briefly benched on Tuesday after a trio of penalties, has 13 points in nine games, while captain Quinn Hughes has racked up 11 points in nine games. Tomáš Hertl, the only forward of any note on San Jose, has five points in nine games.
The wounded: Canucks: Teddy Blueger (ankle), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion, LTIR). Shakrs: Logan Couture: out (lower body), Matt Benning: out (lower body), Mitchell Russell: out (undisclosed), Alexander Barabanov: out (finger).
The quote: “I can say my speech or whatever I say, but when I leave, it’s the two or three minutes after I leave, that’s the most important things that are being said in the room,” Rick Tocchet said about when a team has strong leadership. “And I do feel that they’re saying the right things when I leave.”
The prediction: This game has classic banana-peel potential for the high-flying Canucks, but the Sharks are so poor, it’s hard to see this being a game that goes completely sideways for the visitors.
This feels like a 4-1 for the Canucks.
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