There are only two good teams in the Pacific Division: the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames. To be honest, I’m a little on the fence about the Flames. But the Sharks? The Sharks are good.
The Sharks and Flames are the only two teams in the division with a positive goal differential. Every other team in the division has been outscored this season. The only other team in the Pacific above .500 is the Anaheim Ducks and they’re just barely one game over .500 after two wins against the Canucks and Oilers, so let’s wait until they play a few more teams outside their own division.
It’s enough to make you seek derisive nicknames for the division. The Pathetic Division. The Pacific Detrition. The Poocific Excretion. It needs work, but we’ll get there.
Compared to the rest of the division, the Sharks may as well be on a different planet. They’re a Stanley Cup contender led by the two best offensive defencemen in the NHL, with dangerous depth at every position. It feels like the only reason they’re not running away with the division crown is that they haven’t played that many in-division games. Just wait until they’ve had more opportunities to beat up Parasitic Emission opponents.
Dang it, that’s not it either. I watched this game.
- To paraphrase my favourite penguin, the Canucks brought the word “bad” to new levels of badness in this game. Bad offence. Bad defence. Bad everything. This bad team oozed rottenness from every bad shift...simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness. Well, maybe not that bad, but lord, they weren’t good.
- This was one of those games where you could convince yourself that the Canucks deserved a better result, but then you look at the box score and realize they only had 19 shots on goal. What’s worse, they only had three shots in the third period, when they should have been pressing the hardest to comeback. Even worse, just one of those third period shots was from a forward.
- It’s too bad, because the Canucks weren’t all that bad in the first period, and they were genuinely pretty good in the second, out-shooting the Sharks 8-5 in the middle frame and creating some of their best chances. If the Sharks had started Martin Jones, who has struggled to start the season with an .891 save percentage, maybe the Canucks could have scored a couple goals. Unfortunately, the Sharks said, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” and the Sharks backup, who has a sparkling .928 save percentage, shut the door.
- It didn’t help that the Canucks brought their pitching wedges instead of their hockey sticks to the rink. Their best chances saw the puck fly skyward instead of netward, including great chances in the slot from Derrick Pouliot, Nikolay Goldobin, and Bo Horvat.
- The Canucks weren’t the only ones lifting the puck high and wide. Joe Thornton had the most hilarious miss of the game: on a clear-cut breakaway, he somehow managed to hook the puck a good three feet wide of the net. It’s nice to know that even a surefire Hall-of-Famer is bad at hockey.
- At 5-on-5, this was a one-goal game. The Sharks scored just one goal at even-strength, so the Canucks can take some small comfort in that. Very small comfort — approximately a thimbleful of Southern Comfort — as it just meant their penalty kill was atrocious.
- Logan Couture opened the scoring, giving him five points in his last three games. You might say that Couture is haute right now. Markus Granlund lost the faceoff, Tim Schaller was a little too aggressive attacking Erik Karlsson at the point, and Couture was able to walk in and snipe the puck past a screened Markstrom.
- The second Sharks goal was some of the sloppiest penalty killing of the season for the Canucks. The Sharks’ power play pushed and pulled their wedge formation with pressure and passing until it fell apart. That gave Joe Thornton ample room to attack from the left, forcing an aggressive save from Nilsson. Then Thornton banked the rebound in off Timo Meier in the crease.
- Elias Pettersson had a quiet night — he didn’t get a single shot on goal — but he still managed to make a positive contribution. He drew two penalties, giving the Canucks two of their four power plays, and led the Canucks in corsi, as the team out-attempted the Sharks 14-6 with Pettersson on the ice at 5-on-5. It’s something.
- Pettersson was also distributing the puck superbly on the power play. The Sharks knew to keep a close eye on Pettersson, preventing him from getting any shots from The PetterZone, but he used that to his advantage, drawing in penalty killers to open up passing lanes for his teammates. With a little more finish — perhaps from Brock Boeser — the power plays Pettersson drew could have been capped off with Pettersson assists.
- Brendan “Water Bug” Leipsic had two of the Canucks’ best chances, darting around the ice like he was a member of the Gerridae family. First, he stole a puck from Brenden Dillon to create a breakaway, but couldn’t beat Dell five-hole. Then, early in the third, he picked up a rebound and nearly dragged it around Dell, but a quick pokecheck negated what a sure goal.
- One of Joe Pavelski’s best attributes as a hockey player is his opaqueness: generally being a solid mass that does not transmit light particles through himself. That’s what helped him screen Nilsson on Erik Karlsson’s 3-0 goal in the third period. After Thornton drew in Tim Schaller on the wing, Karlsson had plenty of time to pick his spot past Nilsson.
- The 4-0 goal was the first Karlsson from Karlsson goal in Sharks history. Erik Karlsson had the point shot after Sam Gagner lost the faceoff, and Melker Karlsson tipped it past Nilsson. The Sharks just need to trade for William Karlsson so we can get a Karlsson from Karlsson and Karlsson goal. Then the Calgary Flames need to bring back Henrik Karlsson from the KHL, so it can be Karlsson on Karlsson from Karlsson and Karlsson.
- Normally when a goaltender allows 4 goals on just 24 shots, the finger of blame gets drawn magnetically to him, but you can’t put this one on the goalie. It was Anders Nilsson’s first start in weeks, as he just came back from injury, and he was facing one of the best teams in the league. Could he have battled a little harder to track the puck through screens? Maybe, but it’s awfully hard to fault him for the pucks that got by him.
- Also, the Canucks didn’t score any goals. Nilsson can’t help with that part.
- Travis Green tried something new in the third period as the Canucks struggled to score: he loaded up a line with Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson and Nikolay Goldobin. We’ll see if that’s a combination he turns to in the future when goals are harder to find than a good man.
- Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand, fellas. It jumped up a notch. Roussel bit a guy! He should probably find a safehouse or a relative close by, lay low for a while, because he’s probably going to get suspended.