Minute Abbs: Canucks at Oilers

Starting first of back-to-back games against Oilers

Starting first of back-to-back games against Oilers

Yes, the Sharks have played 124 Stanley Cup playoff games since the Oilers eliminated them in the 2006 playoffs and the Oilers have played zero playoff games since that same spring. Trust what you have been witnessing. They know the level that they have to play at when this time of year starts. The Sharks' underlying numbers indicate they may be due for an improvement in both areas, but the absence of the team's top two centers may make any regression to the mean a moot point.

Edmonton: Thought to be a weakness in October, Edmonton's defense seemed to get better and better as the year went on. It happened and its a happening.

Canucks forward Bo Horvat said they knew it was going to be a challenge with the Oilers looking to go into playoffs on a roll.

Yes, it happened before it was supposed to happen.

After missing the playoffs the last 10 miserable seasons, Edmonton's 101 points marks the first time the franchise has cracked the century mark since earning 106 in 1986-87. The Sharks ended the regular season by dropping nine of their final 13 games, fading out of first place in the division, suffering key injuries, and really making you wonder if last year's Cup finalist are in the right place entering the first round. After finishing the 2015-16 season with just 70 points (and only 31 wins), the Oilers pulled a 33 point improvement in 2016-17. Swedish forward Henrik Zetterberg, playing in his 1,000th National Hockey League game, had a goal and an assist in front of a crowd of 20,027 at "The Joe", which will be replaced by the new Little Caesars Arena for the 2017-18 season.

US, Canada and Mexico confirm joint 2026 World Cup hosting bid
Mexico will push to kick off the 32-day tournament at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, which hosted the final in 1970 and 1986. All Iraq's "home" games in 2018 World Cup qualifying have been played in neutral Iran or Malaysia.

San Jose: Despite some late-season struggles the Sharks finished fifth in the National Hockey League with a 2.44 goals-against average. That tells you (and more importantly, them) that they can expect to go deep into the playoffs. They're healthy, their star Connor McDavid has been putting up points easily, and they look as good as they have all year-long. They're now third in the Atlantic with 95 points. The Oilers also lead the Sharks in all goaltending categories except goals against average, but it's a small difference.

McDavid and his teammates might have to turn the guys in their lineup who do have the experience, such as Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon.

The Sharks, who finished third in the Pacific Division, will play the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after, late Sunday, Anaheim's game against Los Angeles went to overtime, giving the Ducks at least one point and their fifth straight regular season division title.

Shortly after an Anton Slepyshev goal was disallowed upon review for an off-side call with six minutes left in the second, the Oilers made up for it when McDavid extended his point streak to 14 games by setting up a Caggiula goal on a rush to make it 3-1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will after 395.

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