The pondering is perhaps post-season assembly between two divisional rivals which have performed for supremacy inside the identical state would result in some heated affairs, however there’s actually not all that a lot hatred there between the Ducks and Sharks. In the historical past of the 2 franchises, solely as soon as have they met within the post-season — in 2009, with Anaheim profitable in six video games — and the conferences between the 2 squads this season had been about as heated as a cross-conference outing between two middling golf equipment. The most rough-and-tumble recreation noticed 16 whole penalty minutes. That was in mid-February, with 10 of these minutes coming when San Jose’s Barclay Goodrow and Anaheim’s J.T. Brown tussled. All it takes is one playoff sequence to essentially spark some hatred, although, and the Ducks and Sharks might be engaged in a blood feud by the point this one’s mentioned and accomplished.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
How They Win: The Sharks have a pair of extra-special groups. Their penalty killing was the second-best within the NHL, operating at near an 85 p.c effectivity. And no staff within the league scoring the next proportion of its targets on the ability play. Add it up and San Jose’s special-team charges stood at 105.four, tied with Los Angeles for the fourth-best whole within the league behind Boston (107.2), Toronto (106.four) and Pittsburgh (106.2). In previous seasons, the Sharks had been reliant on two strains to do the overwhelming majority of the scoring, however teenager Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Chris Tierney have emerged to diversify the assault. Tierney particularly has been a revelation, primarily changing Patrick Marleau’s offense at just a little greater than one-tenth the worth tag. Since Jan. 1, Tierney has 9 targets and 27 factors. And don’t neglect the large bearded man on the blueline. Nobody takes extra pictures than Brent Burns. His large stick thins out opposing defenses.
How They Lose: There’s no denying the Sharks nonetheless rely very closely on gamers properly into their 30s. That expertise may be useful in stress conditions, however it will probably additionally put on a staff down over time. San Jose is without doubt one of the league’s least productive groups within the third interval and loses twice as many video games because it wins in additional time. The Sharks don’t throw many bodychecks as a staff — they’re third-last within the league in hits — however since coach Peter DeBoer took over three seasons in the past, no staff has blocked extra pictures than the Sharks. A extra centered passing assault by the opposition can wreak havoc with San Jose’s shot-blocking strategy.
How They Win: They say boring, defensive hockey wins within the playoffs. Well, as to be anticipated with Randy Carlyle behind the bench, the Ducks play a conservative recreation that doesn’t see a number of targets on the board. Games involving Anaheim produced a mean of simply 5.50 targets, third-lowest within the league. The Ducks don’t rating many targets (18th-ranked offense) they usually don’t permit many targets (third-best protection). Anaheim has a cell protection corps that’s environment friendly in its personal finish in addition to transitioning the puck within the different route. And the Ducks have an excellent core of confirmed veterans with monitor information of taking part in properly in crunch time — Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette, though their finest years are behind them. New-ish faces Ondrej Kase and Adam Henrique are second and third in staff goal-scoring, so it’s now not only a one-line assault.
How They Lose: Among groups within the playoffs, the Ducks rank close to the underside in 5-on-5 offense. Anaheim has a troublesome time scoring two targets per recreation at five-a-side — averaging simply 1.91 — so it struggles in opposition to groups that play a wise, disciplined recreation and keep out of the penalty field. The Ducks nonetheless play a bodily type and had been fifth within the league in minor penalties, so don’t retaliate. Efficient energy performs could make a distinction in shut playoff video games, however Anaheim has strong penalty killing. Work the entrance of the Anaheim internet in man-advantage conditions and the Ducks are susceptible. Goalie John Gibson has a propensity to be increase or bust. Test him early and also you would possibly get a couple of previous him.
Five Things To Watch:
1. Evander Kane is lastly going to make his playoff debut. It took the 26-year-old almost 600 video games to lastly get a style of post-season motion, and he’s going to be fired up when he hits the ice for Game 1. Everything about Kane’s recreation screams playoff participant, so if he brings the identical fireplace and physicality that we’re used to seeing and throws in a splash of pace and talent, he might take over a recreation by himself together with his newfound post-season power.
2. Which Corey Perry goes to indicate up? In the common season, Perry has scored zero.30 targets and zero.69 factors per recreation throughout the previous three campaigns. In the playoffs, nonetheless, Perry has upped his recreation, netting zero.35 targets and zero.86 factors per recreation. He’s a perpetual pest and can feed off of the frustration of his opponents, notably if he can get beneath their pores and skin early.
three. The matchup within the crease might be what decides the sequence. San Jose’s Martin Jones has been mediocre at occasions, however he has proven a bent to play properly when the stress is on. He has a profession .925 save proportion in 32 playoff video games. Gibson, however, has been spectacular this season, however his profession playoff numbers aren’t the best. He has a .918 SP in 22 video games, however has posted a SP decrease than .915 in half of his outings.
four. The sequence might turn out to be a particular groups battle. Both San Jose and Anaheim had been center of the pack groups when it got here to 5-on-5 manufacturing — the Sharks ranked 15th with 159 targets, the Ducks tied for 17th with 157 targets — however the mixed energy play and penalty killing efficiencies each ranked within the high half of the league. San Jose had the sting in each respects, although, so that would tilt the sequence.
5. The Sharks ‘possession-heavy recreation might put the Ducks on their heels. In the 4 conferences between the groups throughout the common season — of which San Jose gained three and misplaced the opposite in a shootout — the Sharks owned the 5-on-5 possession recreation to the tune of a 52.three shot makes an attempt for proportion. San Jose additionally earned almost 53 p.c of the 5-on-5 scoring probabilities. If that holds via the primary spherical matchup, Anaheim might be taking part in many of the sequence out of their very own zone.
THN Series Prediction: Sharks in seven.
LINE COMBOS, DEFENSE PAIRINGS & GOALIES