Whether or not the Vancouver Canucks’ random cheating accusations against the San Jose Sharks are true or not, the Sharks in Game 1 were too fast, had too many scoring opportunities and had a goalie who was too locked in.
The Sharks won 57 percent of the face-offs in Wednesday’s Game 1 win over the favored Canucks, but San Jose was second in the NHL with 53.4 percent of face-off wins during the regular season. Compare that to the 25th-ranked Canucks, and it was bound to be a lopsided affair in the face-off circle.
Nothing to see here, folks.
They’re second in the league in face-offs. They have a lot of experience. They cheat and that’s part of the game. We have to be able to handle that. We have to find a way to get better. We have some experienced guys I think can do a pretty good job and they have to do it.
It sounds a lot like a head coach who knows his team in trouble.
The Canucks did not play bad by any means Wednesday night, despite their only goal being scored on a scramble in front of the San Jose net. Replay showed Sharks forward Raffi Torres had actually kicked the puck into his own net.
Vancouver controlled the pace of the game for the majority of the three periods, though, another reason why the Canucks suddenly find themselves with an uphill climb in the first round. They still must travel to raucous San Jose, where the Sharks went 17-2-5 during the regular season.
The Sharks are simply playing well right now.
Niemi is at the top of his game, and has been throughout the regular season, and the San Jose defense is as stingy as it comes in the NHL. Add that to the fact that their offense is quicker and more physical than prior to the trade deadline, and Vigneault and the Canucks will continue to have their hands full in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.
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