Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks First Round Preview
Two perennial playoff teams face-off in the first round with the winner moving on and trying to meet fan expectations and the loser facing major changes both on the ice and in the front office.
Let’s break this series down:
Overall Talent – These teams are pretty even and were only one win apart in the standings this year. I think the top two lines for each team will play to a standstill leaving the balance of the series to how well the bottom six and the defence for each team plays. I think the Sharks top six forwards are slightly better but I like the Canucks defence a bit more. I think this is a draw.
Edge – Even
Goaltending – It must be May because one of the major stories in the playoffs is the Canucks goaltending situation. Cory Schneider was ready to be the undisputed #1 goalie but is currently hurt, leaving Roberto Luongo one more chance to showcase himself for a possible trade this summer. Since the Canucks aren’t playing the Blackhawks this series I expect Luongo to play well as he still is an upper-echelon goalie. Antti Niemi will receive some consideration for the Vezina Trophy this year but the Sharks are going to have to hope that he doesn’t wear down after playing for 43 games. I think Niemi’s season gives the Sharks a slight edge in goal in this series.
Slight edge – San Jose
Coaching – Both Alain Vigneault and Todd McLellan need to at least advance to the second round to keep their jobs. McLellan reached the conference finals in consecutive years but only won one game combined. Vigneault made the finals in 2011, the only year he has advanced past the second round.
Edge – Even
Specialty Teams – San Jose has the 7th best power play in the NHL which seems to be a major advantage over the 22nd ranked Vancouver unit. The Canucks should play better than that with the Sedin twins and defencemen like Jason Garrison on the point. Both teams have strong penalty killing units which gives San Jose an edge.
Edge – San Jose
This series can go either way and I think every game will be close. The Sharks have a slight edge in net and the edge on special teams so I think they take this series in seven.