Regardless of what venue the game has been played at or which goaltender the Vancouver Canucks have had in net, the San Jose Sharks have completely dominated them in the series thus far. This three versus six matchup has become devastatingly one sided, with a sweep expected to come in game four in San Jose.
Just weeks before the playoffs began, Vancouver was looking like the most dangerous team in the west; the acquisition of Derek Roy was paying off immensely, Ryan Kesler had returned from injury, and net minder Cory Schneider was playing his best hockey of the season.
The team’s fortunes took a complete 180 with just a couple games to go in the regular season. Schneider went down with a mysterious injury and the offense went into hibernation once again. Momentum is the most important attribute when it comes to the NHL Playoffs. The hottest teams, more often than not, make the deepest runs.
The Canucks were anything but hot coming into the first round and had low morale due to a string of late injuries. The offense has simply not produced in the three games played in the series. Vancouver is just 1/7 on the power play and have only scored five goals in the series; the Sharks have scored eleven goals, four of them being power play goals.
However, what has truly hurt the Canucks most are the penalties. As a team, the Canucks have accumulated 32 penalty minutes, while giving San Jose 17 power plays. Those are astronomical numbers for only three games being played. Taking that many penalties will undoubtedly result in goals being scored against you. On top of that, being in the box that much makes it very hard for your team to gain any momentum to try and mount some type of comeback.
The Vancouver players are taking so many penalties because the San Jose skaters are simply beating them everywhere on the ice. The frustration of the Canucks is easily exemplified by the increase of penalty minutes and goal differential as the series has progressed. The Sharks are clearly the hungrier team, and the feeding frenzy will continue in game four.