NHL Hockey Betting: Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks

NHL Hockey Betting:  Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks

2016 will go down in history as a low point for Canadian hockey history. With the elimination of Ottawa from playoff contention on Wednesday all seven Canadian teams are out of the postseason. This is only the second time in history and first time since 1970 that this has happened. There are signs that better days are coming–not the least of which is the continued development of Connor McDavid–but for now it’s a bitter blow for Canada. It’s hard for US fans to understand this concept–just imagine if the entire NFL playoffs were contested between teams from Canada and Europe (assuming some *serious* expansion by the league). But even if that did happen it wouldn’t be as big of a blow as Canada is feeling now. Pro football may be the most popular game in the US but it isn’t undoubtedly ‘America’s national sport’. Baseball still rolls with the ‘National Pastime’ moniker and basketball was invented here. Maybe the 1972 Summer Olympic basketball gold medal screwjob or the 1988 Summer Olympics in which the US finished third (and which begat the ‘Dream Team’ led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and a slew of NBA stars). That might be a more valid comparison but no sport completely embodies the character of a nation the way hockey does in Canada.

This game is unlikely to make Canadian fans feel better. The Vancouver Canucks are tied with Edmonton for last place in the Western Conference and based on the ‘eye test’ are the worst of all seven Canadian teams. They’re 1-8-1 in their last ten games and look like they just don’t care any more. Plenty of teams have been ravaged by injuries–none more so than the Montreal Canadiens–but at least keep playing hard. The Canucks packed it in when Radim Vrbata was lost for the season.

San Jose is locked in to one of the three guaranteed playoff spots in the Pacific Division but could still move up in the standings–they’re 3 points behind the second place Los Angeles Kings and 4 back of the division leading Anaheim Ducks. They beat Vancouver 4-1 in the Canucks’ barn on Tuesday night. San Jose has been a strange team in that they’ve been much better on the road (26-10-3) than at home (17-18-3) and for whatever reason have struggled against Vancouver here (Canucks have won 5 of the last 6 meetings in California). At this point, that probably doesn’t matter. San Jose may be vulnerable at home but not sure that the Canucks still have the moxie to make a game of this.