Lets get it on!
The Vancouver Canucks were soundly beaten by the San Jose Sharks in Game One of their opening series and were given the day off by head coach Alain Vigneault in anticipation of a much better performance tonight in Game Two.
Ryan Kesler was noticeably labouring Wednesday after missing the game day skate with the flu, but is expected to bounce back after taking advantage of the time off between games.
Kesler was one of five Canucks forwards who finished below 50% on the draw on Wednesday, and will need to find a way to even the score after the Canucks were forced to fight for puck possession more than they would like to admit in Game One.
“I think you have to establish body position early and work for those loose pucks laying around there,” said Kesler regarding faceoffs.
“If you can help the centre win one or two, that does a lot for face-off percentage. If each line won one or two, we’re probably about 50 per cent.”
Kesler is expected to slide across to the wing tonight after struggling on the draw Wednesday, playing alongside Chris Higgins and Derek Roy on Vancouver’s second line. “I expect more out of myself tonight,” Kesler told the media Friday morning.
While Ryan Kesler‘s lack-lustre performance during Game One was a slight concern, the Canucks as a whole simply have to be better tonight against the Sharks.
Kesler may have been moved to the wing to accommodate any lingering effects of the flu, but I see today’s optional game day skate as a message to a team that knows it needs to execute more effectively in tonight’s rematch.
Alex Burrows and the Sedins were held to four shots combined on Wednesday, and failed to set up any consistent offensive zone puck possession as the Sharks aggressively defended their blue line and continually retrieved dump-ins with ease.
“They did a good job of using a low centreman,” Henrik Sedin said of Game One.
“We didn’t get any pressure. We got the first guy in there, but our second and third guy stayed back too much. We have to get more guys in there.”
Execution is the name of the game tonight as the Canucks attempt to rally from a poor performance in Game One.
With excuses like nerves and the flu out of the way, Game Two will make it perfectly clear if the Canucks have what it takes to emerge victorious over the San Jose Sharks once again, or if they are in for another early exit at the hands of a Californian underdog.
Tonight’s game isn’t a must win for the Canucks, but it’s pretty damn close.