San Jose Sharks Simply Outplayed by Vancouver Canucks in West Finals

Ben HuttlingerContributor IMay 19, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 18:  Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his first period goal against goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of San Jose Sharks with teammates in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 18, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Thus far in the Western Conference Finals, the San Jose Sharks have been simply outplayed by the Canucks.  Vancouver has been stronger, faster, and better for the majority of the series.  There are two key areas that I'd like to point out as the differences between the two teams.  Vancouver's top lines are outplaying the Sharks' top lines, and the Canucks hold the advantage in the neutral zone.

One easy conclusion Sharks fans can draw from the two losses is that the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and others are finding their groove in this series.  At the same time, the Sharks' top lines of Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Clowe and Pavelski have been relatively quiet more recently in these playoffs.

Daniel Sedin has two goals on 10 shots, and Henrik Sedin has one goal and four assists in the two games.  Vancouver is also getting production from key players like Burrows, Torres, and Lapierre.  For the Sharks, there's not one player with more than three points in the series.

Credit the Canucks' defense led by Ehrhoff, Bieksa, and the net minder Luongo, but the San Jose Sharks are not putting nearly as many shots on net.  San Jose has been out shot in both games and is having a hard time sustaining an offensive push.  

This brings me to my next point: the Canucks are holding the neutral zone well in their first two home games.  They've challenged Sharks' forwards moving into their zone and caused a lot of turnovers between the blue lines, as well as in the Sharks' defensive zone.  They are also outhitting their competitors, causing some frustration.  

In Game 2, Ben Eager took some bad penalties at crucial times, one after a hit on Kesler.  Ryan Clowe also tried to throw some punches late in the game when it was well out of reach.  Vancouver has played San Jose brilliantly as the series moves to San Jose.  

Although the Sharks may be tired after a long series with Detroit and Vancouver has won both their games at home, San Jose must be mentally tough to rebound after two poor showings in order to make this a series.  

I personally do not want to see the Sharks swept in the Western Conference Finals once again.