The San Jose Sharks will be hosting the Vancouver Canucks tonight, which will mark the first regular season meeting of these two teams since the Canucks banished the Sharks from the Western Conference Finals last year.
The two teams met twice in the preseason, where the Sharks won both games, 4-3 and 3-0. But those games don't matter. The early season struggles are a distant memory for both the Sharks and Canucks. The Sharks have won seven of their last nine games, and the Canucks have won four of their last five.
As far as standings go, the Sharks lead the Pacific Division with a 13-5-1 record, and are in third place in the Western Conference. The Canucks are in 10th place in the West with a record of 12-9-1, but can easily hop past a few teams with a win tonight.
Recently, quite a few Sharks have been ridiculously hot. Joe Thornton leads the team with 20 points, followed by Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski with 19. Pavelski has scored 11 goals to lead the team and Patty has nine. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a defenseman, has two goals and nine assists, and has been one hot pickle lately.
For Vancouver, the Sedin twins, not surprisingly, are among the league leaders in points. Daniel has 25, and Henrik has 23. Vancouver has gotten very good secondary scoring, with guys like Alex Burrows and Chris Higgens among the team lead with seven goals.
But past all that, I believe the Sharks can get revenge on the Canucks tonight. Antti Niemi, coming off a shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks, will get the start tonight against a hot-and-cold Cory Schneider.
If Niemi plays as well as he did in the last game, and the Sharks offense gets back on track after only scoring once against Chicago, the Sharks should be able to serve the Canucks a cold dish of revenge.
With the additions of Martin Havlat, Brent Burns and Michal Handzus, the Sharks covered up most of their weaknesses.
San Jose should come out on top tonight. My prediction is a 4-2 Sharks victory, with the fourth being an empty netter.