San Jose Sharks Remain Overmatched by Vancouver Canucks

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIJanuary 22, 2012

Logan Couture had an All-Star-worthy game with two goals and a key block
Logan Couture had an All-Star-worthy game with two goals and a key blockMarianne Helm/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have played the Vancouver Canucks 13 times over the past 15 months. They have just three victories, and one of those was in a shootout.

The teams do not have all the same personnel over that period of time, but the top players all remain. Seeing the Canucks as better is undeniable for all but the most optimistic of Sharks fans and broadcasters.

Yet Jamie Baker sat with a straight face Saturday afternoon and told his audience that the Sharks could win a seven-game series against the Canucks. Sure, anything is possible. But based on the current rate of success, the chances of winning four of seven are lower than their chances of being swept.

San Jose have been within one goal of the Canucks in seven of 10 losses. Saturday, they scored the only two special-teams goals in the game despite having three more minor penalties than one of the best special-teams units in the NHL.

Logan Couture scored a shorthanded and power play goal, plus stopped Henrik Sedin in front of a wide-open net. They were within two faceoffs and four shots on goal of an elite team on the road. They had six fewer giveaways, two more takeaways, 13 more blocked shots and an equal number of hits.

Yet they still could not win. If anything says that San Jose has to play a perfect game to beat a team, that is it.

The Sharks can take some comfort in knowing they lost this one without their full compliment, as Martin Havlat, Ryane Clowe and some role players were out. But relying on that is not logical given that it does not explain the bulk of the 13 games—during many of which Vancouver had more injuries than San Jose.

Just as I stated repeatedly two years ago with regard to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Sharks must accept that their chances of getting past the Canucks this season as currently constituted are too remote. They must make a trade-deadline move that will add speed, physicality and/or skill to the roster.

They have the cap space and assets to do it. They may not even have to look far for the added talent—see the accompanying link for more.