Joe Pavelski

Discuss: Sharks beat Canucks, can sweep Tuesday


The brooms will be out Tuesday in San Jose after the Sharks blew out the Canucks, 5-2, Sunday at HP Pavilion.

San Jose now leads the first-round series, 3-0, and will try not to look past Vancouver before finishing the job in Game 4.

For the Canucks, it’s almost eery how similar the 2013 playoffs have been to last year, when they went out in five to the Kings in the first round. In both series, goalie Roberto Luongo got the start in the first two games — at home against a lower seed — and lost twice. Also in both series, Cory Schneider came in for Game 3 on the road, but couldn’t turn the tide.

Granted, like last year, goaltending hasn’t been the biggest issue for Vancouver. The Canucks just can’t score anymore.

Some discussion points:

—- Fun fact for Sharks fans: the last three teams to beat the Canucks in the playoffs won the Stanley Cup.

—- Fun fact II for Sharks fans: Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored twice in nine seconds in the third period, but it wasn’t the fastest two goals in San Jose playoff history. The club record is eight seconds, by John MacLean and Ron Sutter in 1998.

— Not only did Couture finish with two goals and two assists, he was practically unbeatable in the faceoff circle.

—- Is Joe Pavelski the best third-line center in the NHL right now? They used to say that about Jordan Staal when he was in Pittsburgh, but then he was traded to Carolina. Pavelski had San Jose’s first two goals in Game 3, both on neat redirects.

—- Schneider was pulled after allowing five goals, including three in the opening minutes of the third period. Who will get the nod for the Canucks on Tuesday? Does it even matter?

—- Is there any way head coach Alain Vigneault keeps his job if the Canucks lose to San Jose, which it appears they will? If he’s fired, would it be the right call, or is it general manager Mike Gillis who deserves the blame for the team’s failings the past two years? Is a major roster shakeup required, or do they give it one more year with the current group? The Sedins have one more year remaining on their contracts before they can become unrestricted free agents.

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Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado