The San Jose Sharks began the second half of their 2013 preseason schedule with a blowout win over their new Pacific Division and long-time Western Conference rival Vancouver Canucks Tuesday, Sept. 24. Unlike with the first three games, the official stat sheet for this game is remarkably one-sided.
Despite having almost 40 percent more shots on goal (33-24), the Sharks blocked twice as many (18-9). They did have their first game with double-digit giveaways (16) but more than erased that 10-possession deficit with a dozen more wins in the circle (.603 faceoff percentage). They also had 11 takeaways to just five for the Canucks, but even with eight extra possessions were out-hit just 22-21.
More importantly, that one extra hit by Vancouver came at the expense of three more penalties. San Jose's power play converted two of three chances Tuesday. Before either of those goals were scored in the second period, the Sharks had already taken control of the game in the first.
Tomas Hertl's tip-in of a Scott Hannan shot (Joe Thornton secondary assist) gave them a 1-0 lead just past the mid-point of the period. Dan Boyle got the puck from Tyler Kennedy and put a wrist-shot past Eddie Lack (Joe Pavelski) about two minutes later.
Then Logan Couture was key on both goals with the man-advantage, with a secondary assist on Thornton's marker at 11:21 (Patrick Marleau) and a goal with a minute to go (Pavelski, Boyle). The Sharks had a 26-14 edge in shots at the end of the period, and Hertl added another score with assists from his line-mates Brent Burns and the captain, who according to CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz remarked after the game that they are beginning to get used to each other despite the young forward's imperfect English.
Vince Lombardi was famously quoted saying, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." But because a preseason win literally counts for nothing, a better quote for this victory is, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." A list of five areas of their game shows the real reasons this win was big.