Bite-size bits of season

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

The Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks are two teams intertwined. Like the song goes, "fancy meeting you here."

The Canucks host the Sharks at GM Place tomorrow night and travel all the way to San Jose Thursday for a rematch at the HP Pavilion. The Canucks cannot settle for anything less than a pair of regulation-time wins in their desperate attempt to avoid missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2000.

The Canucks won both meetings in November 2005.

Ed Jovanovski had a power-play goal and an assist in a 3-1 Canucks' win at San Jose on Nov. 16.

Anson Carter scored the winner in a 3-2 Nov. 24 win at GM Place. The wins gave the Canucks a 36-23-9 all-time advantage over the Sharks, but the Sharks are the contemporary favourites to succeed this week.

San Jose is riding a four game winning streak, including a pair over powerful Dallas Stars. Since February's Olympic break, the Sharks are 13-8. Canucks are 8-11.

The Sharks come north led by Joe Thornton, the marquee player in the NHL's first, and some say only, blockbuster trade of the season.

He came west in the Nov. 30 deal that saw Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau go east to the Boston Bruins.

Jonathan Cheechoo is San Jose's big surprise. The 25-year-old rightwinger from Moose Factory, Ont., entered last night's game looking for his 50th goal of the season. He scored two goals last night, becoming the third player to reach 50 on the season following Jaromir Jagr and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Finnish goaltender Vesa Toskala finished the weekend with three consecutive wins and has provided the Sharks with quality goaltending while veteran Evgeni Nabokov struggled with injuries.

Will the shark or whale prevail? Sit back and enjoy.

The Canucks wore their blue 1970s retro uniforms last Saturday to beat the Calgary Flames. Perhaps they ought to take their black 1990s threads out of the closet, wear them against the Sharks and pray that history repeats itself.

The teams met for the first time in back-to-back fashion to begin the 1991-1992 season. The expansion Sharks debuted in the NHL at the Pacific Coliseum on Oct. 4, 1991. The Sharks floundered in their early years, losing a record 71 games in 1992-1993 before moving to the new San Jose Arena where they made a 58-point turnaround and advanced to the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ex-Canuck Igor Larionov and future Canuck Arturs Irbe were the difference.

Irbe backstopped San Jose in 74 games and helped the Sharks steal a first-round upset victory from the Detroit Red Wings.

A decade later, San Jose made it to the conference finals before losing to the Calgary Flames.


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