Zack MacEwen to make NHL debut as Vancouver Canucks host Sharks
Monday February 11 - Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks - 7 p.m. - Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet 650
Vancouver Canucks: 56 GP, 25-24-7, 57 pts, fourth in Pacific Division
San Jose Sharks: 56 GP, 33-16-7, 73 pts, second in Pacific Division
After knocking off the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames thanks to Elias Pettersson's shootout winner on Saturday, the Vancouver Canucks will face another stiff challenge when they host the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season on Monday night at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks were shut out 4-0 in the teams' only other meeting so far this year, back in November in San Jose.
It'll be the first of two games between the teams this week; the Canucks will also wrap up their California road trip at the Shark Tank on Saturday after visits to Anaheim and Los Angeles.
With Vancouver's heavy recent schedule and Sunday's open practice, there's only a very optional morning skate today, so we'll have to wait for warmup to get a look at the lines.
Here's the exciting part. One day after being called up from Utica, Zack MacEwen will play!
I've had a chance to see MacEwen play in person a couple of times, at the 2017 Young Stars tournament in Penticton and at summer development camp. He's a big boy at 6'4" and 212 pounds, and brings both soft hands and a solid physical element to the ice. Looking forward to seeing what he can do!
Some old faces made an appearance to speak to the press in the Norm Jewison Media Room on Monday.
The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame is located at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. Induction ceremonies are held each year in July.
Monday's game is also the Canucks' Lunar New Year celebration, which was excellent last year.
As for the Sharks, they've played seven of their last eight games on the road but are rolling into Vancouver to wrap up their Western Canada trip riding a five-game winning streak. The difference has been goaltending—before the All-Star Break, the Sharks gave up six goals in four straight games. But the bye week seems to have done wonders for North Vancouver's Martin Jones, who limited the Coyotes, Jets and Flames to two goals each last week before Aaron Dell did the same against Edmonton on Saturday.
Neither team has officially named its starter yet, but I'm guessing Jacob Markstrom will go up against Jones. The local boy, whose dad is a long-time Canucks employee, usually gets the nod here at Rogers Arena, and usually plays well. Though his overall numbers are below his usual standard this season at 26-10-4 with an .899 GAA and 2.90 goals-against average, through his career he's 7-1-1 against Vancouver, with a .949 save percentage and 1.66 GAA—better than against any other opponent in the league.
I was looking forward to the chance to see Erik Karlsson make his Rogers Arena debut in a Sharks uniform tonight, but his status is questionable. Even though he skated in the All-Star Game and spent some quality time with fellow Swede Elias Pettersson, Karlsson has been scratched from the Sharks' last seven games, both before and after the break, with a lower-body injury. He has been listed as day-to-day and did hit the ice briefly for a skate last week, but this issue seems to be lingering longer than anybody expected.
Though he took some time to adjust to his new surroundings, Karlsson was finding his form in San Jose before he was hurt. He had 15 points in 26 games and was a minus nine through the first two months of the season, then put up 28 points in 21 games and was a plus-14 after December 1.
It could end up being a completely Karlsson-free evening. Forward Melker Karlsson played just one shift in Edmonton on Saturday before being injured, so his status is also questionable.
Elsewhere on the Sharks blue line, Brent Burns is turning in another Norris Trophy-caliber season—leading his team and all NHL defensemen with 61 points in 56 games. In the first year of his massive new $56-million contract extension, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is now rounding back into his usual reliable form after struggling earlier in the year.
Up front, the Sharks already boast four 20-goal scorers in Joe Pavelski (29), Tomas Hertl (25) Evander Kane (24) and Logan Couture (20). Timo Meier is knocking on the door with 19 and Kevin LaBanc scored his career hat trick against Edmonton on Saturday and is now up to nine goals and 36 points on the year.
And don't forget about Jumbo. With nine points in his last 10 games, including two assists on Saturday, 39-year-old Joe Thornton has now tied Gordie Howe for ninth all-time in the NHL's assist list, with 1,049. He could catch eighth-place Steve Yzerman (1,063) before the end of the year.
Finally—if you're stuck inside due to the snow and looking for more hockey before the Canucks game, don't forget that the Beanpot Final goes Monday at 4:30 p.m. PT and is televised on TSN2.
Canucks prospect Tyler Madden scored the overtime winner in last week's semifinal to give Northeastern a chance to defend its 2018 title against Boston College. For a freshman, he has made a huge impact on his team this year.
Jack Rathbone's Harvard team will go up against Boston University in the consolation game, which is not televised in Canada.