NHL 2011 Playoffs: Canucks Demolish Sharks 7-3. Can They Sweep the Series?

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NHL 2011 Playoffs: Canucks Demolish Sharks 7-3. Can They Sweep the Series?
Harry How/Getty Images

In the first two games, the Canucks have simply been dominant. 

The Canucks outhit the Sharks, 81 to 61.

The Canucks outshot the Sharks, 76 to 60

The Canucks outscored the Sharks,10 to four.

And they even outfought the Sharks, as Kevin Bieksa schooled Patrick Marleau in a second period bout in Game 2. 

In the words of Sharks head coach Todd McLellan after Game 2, the Canucks were simply the team who wanted it more.

"They had more battle in their game than we did. At this time of year, when you have more battle and more tenacity to your game, you're going to win."

A compliment to the Canucks, but perhaps a more damning indictment of his own team. 

NHL great Jeremy Roenick called out Marleau as gutless in a much publicized interview during the second round. Marleau definitely wasn't gutless in Game 2, but perhaps he might consider that discretion is the better part of valour some times. 

Marleau and Bieksa engaged in a series of slashes and jabs in the second period with the score 3-2 for the Canucks, and then Marleau decided that dropping the gloves first to initiate a fight was a good idea.

Unfortunately for Marleau, he picked the wrong Canuck to scrap with. 

Despite a significant size disadvantage, Bieksa (6'1" 198 pounds) pounded Marleau (6'2" 220 pounds) with several heavy punches to the face before the linesmen took pity on Marleau and broke it up.  

Bieksa leads the NHL in playoff fights with three and also picked up a goal and an assist to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.

While gutless might not be a legitimate label for Marleau, invisible might be. 

Aside from his fight and a pair of nice power play goals, he hasn't been a factor at even strength. And he isn't alone in that regard.

The Sharks have been outscored 10 to four by the Canucks, and their five on five play has been lacking to say the least.

Joe Thornton had a gift goal on a Roberto Luongo giveaway in Game 1, and Ben Eager crashed the net to bang in a goal in garbage time in Game 2.

Aside from that, the Sharks just aren't competing with the Canucks at even strength. 

The Canucks in comparison have six even strength goals in the two games to date, scored by six different players.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

If the Sharks want to win some games, competing harder and winning battles at even strength might be a good place to start. 

The Sharks also need to play with discipline. As deadly as the Sharks power play has been, going a perfect three for three, the Canucks have scored four power goals themselves. The Sharks have given the Canucks 11 power plays.

Speaking of discipline, despite Marleau initiating the fight, several Sharks were interesting in calling out Bieksa after the game, rather than answering questions about their own lacklustre play.

Ryan Clowe speaking after the game: "Bieksa obviously thinks he's a tough guy. He fights sometimes and picked his spot pretty good there."

Ben Eager chirped as well: "It's sad that someone's gonna sign him for big money when he's a phoney. He goes after our top players. He's been asked many times, by lots of players thoughout the League to fight, and he's declined"

I think they are missing the point. 

Bieksa himself summed up the thoughts in the Canucks dressing room: "Our focus is on winning a series. That's the important thing."

The Sharks might want to think about what they want to focus on, whining about the penalties and calling out Canucks players in the media?

What is the result of Game 3?

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Or trying to win the series on the ice?

A side story on the night was Ben Eager's hit on Daniel Sedin that threw the Art Ross winner headfirst into the boards. 

Some are calling for this to be a suspension, but I don't think he will be suspended, nor should he be. He was called for a penalty on the play and while it could have been a major instead of a minor, it still hurt the Sharks in a critical playoff game.

And Daniel is responsible as well, as he turned into the hit rather than protecting himself.

And this shouldn't be a mitigating factor, but Daniel wasn't hurt. He went on to finish the game and score another goal after the hit, so that will help Eager.

All in all, I think Eager will be in the lineup for Game 3.

And that might be a good thing for the Canucks if he continues to take reckless penalties.

After letting the Chicago Blackhawks off the mat in the first round, will the Canucks show some killer instinct and storm into San Jose to try and sweep the series?

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