Tag: special teams

Patrick Marleau, Willie Mitchell, Roberto Luongo, Mikael Samuelsson

Sharks hope three trends continue against Canucks in Game 4

Vancouver @ San Jose (NBC) – 3 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 2-1

Final scores don’t always tell the story of a game. That was certainly the case in the San Jose Sharks’ 4-3 Game 3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. If you look at that final tally, it looks like it was a lot closer than most of the contest really was. The Sharks starkly outplayed the Canucks for most of that game, building 3-0 and 4-1 leads before a bonehead Jamie McGinn major penalty allowed Vancouver to make a late surge in the third period.

For the Sharks to tie up the series, they want at least three trends to continue.

1. They hope to continue their red-hot special teams play, particularly if the Canucks’ power play struggles like he did during Game 3. In an odd way, San Jose’s advantage has probably been a bit greater than their already considerable edge on the PP. The Sharks are 6 for 13 while the Canucks are 6 for 18 in the series, but two of Vancouver’s goals came on that McGinn major while San Jose started the series 5 for 5. At times, it seems like San Jose’s power play can almost score at will.

2. The Sharks hope that Patrick Marleau continues his hot streak. After going pointless in the first six games of the team’s second round series against the Detroit Red Wings, Marleau has been on a tear. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 and has five goals in his last four games. He has six points in that four-game span and also had five points in a four-game streak against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. In the last two playoff runs, Marleau’s offense seems to come in random waves. The Sharks hope he keeps that current flowing in Game 4.

3. San Jose hopes that Roberto Luongo keeps losing at the Shark Tank. As NHL.com points out, Bobby Lou hasn’t won a game in San Jose since April 7, 2007. That sounds like a considerable amount of time since the two teams play in the Western Conference, but it’s a bit misleading. He’s only played in four games at HP Pavilion since that ’07 win, going 0-3-1 in that span. Still, the playoffs are all about small samples anyway, so another road loss against the Sharks could make this a more troubling trend.

When it comes down to it, the Sharks want one trend to continue above all else: they want to win again. Going down 3-1 might be too big of a burden for San Jose, especially against a team as talented as the Canucks. We’ll see if San Jose stays hot or will be forced to shoot for a tougher streak: three consecutive wins.

Vancouver needs to turn the special teams tide against San Jose

Patrick Marleau, Roberto Luongo

Out of context, it might seem odd to refer to the Vancouver Canucks’ special teams as a problem. After all, they’ve scored the same amount of goals (six) on the power play as the San Jose Sharks produced through three games. Yet when you dig a little deeper, it’s an area of serious concern as the two teams prepare for Game 4 (which can be seen today at 3 p.m. ET on NBC).

First and foremost, the Canucks must find an answer for the stout Sharks’ power play. They were lucky San Jose only received one man advantage in Game 1 and two in Game 2 because the Sharks converted on all three of those chances. San Jose continued that stunning trend of efficiency by pushing that mark to 5-for-5 with two goals early in the first period of Game 3. Ryane Clowe scored that fifth goal on the front end of a high-sticking double-minor before the Canucks finally managed to earn their first successful kill of the series. (Although there was still an eventful moment or two.)

The Canucks penalty kill kept the game from getting downright embarrassing in the second period, but Dan Boyle scored what (surprisingly) ended up being the game-winner on a 5-on-3 in the third. The Sharks finished the game 3 for 10 to push their total mark to an outstanding 6 for 13. When you consider the lower level of urgency of some of those power plays, they were probably even better than the stats would indicate.

Vancouver’s power play was disappointing in Game 3, too.

On paper, the Canucks power play isn’t lagging too far behind, with a 6 for 18 overall mark. Yet that stat doesn’t capture how disappointing the team’s man advantage was in Game 3. The Canucks had a chance to cut into what was then a 3-0 lead with two 5-on-3 power plays. It seemed like they were bound to get a goal when Sharks forward David Desjardins took another penalty right as he left the penalty box to put the second 5-on-3 in motion, yet Vancouver failed to score. All the Canucks managed was three combined shots on goal in that span.

Daniel Sedin admitted to NHL.com that squandering that opportunity sealed the deal in many ways.

“That was our chance to come back in the game, I thought,” Daniel Sedin said in regards to the failed 5-on-3s. “They blocked a lot shots. I thought we played it pretty good, but they blocked a lot of shots so we need to maybe hold on to the puck even more and move it around, but we got the shots we wanted. They just didn’t make it to the net.”

On the bright side, Vancouver created two goals on their last unusual power play opportunity. Jamie McGinn received a five-minute major and game misconduct for a boarding hit on Aaaron Rome in the third period, handing the Canucks five minutes of uninterrupted power play time. Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa scored goals on that major advantage to make it 4-3, but the Sharks held on to win the game.

Those two goals helped Vancouver get back into the game, but ultimately all that did was make the contrast between the two teams’ power plays less jarring. When you place the results in the proper context, it’s difficult to shake the notion that the Sharks can stop the Canucks power play when they must while San Jose can score goals on their own opportunities almost at will.


Simply put, the Canucks cannot expect to win this series if the Sharks continue to score on nearly half of their power plays. It’s a small sample so Vancouver shouldn’t go into full-on panic mode, but it remains a genuine concern regardless. Whether it means changing up their strategy or personnel, Alain Vigneault and the Canucks must find a way to clear up this issue or they could be in big trouble.