I think we all knew that the Anaheim Ducks were a better team than their record indicated. The real question is will their current record intimidate the San Jose Sharks as they try to end it and in order to string some wins together on their own.
Breaking Down the Anaheim Ducks
Record: 4-7-2, 5th in the Pacific Division
Current Streak: 3 Wins
Power Play Percentage: 12.5%
Penalty Kill Percentage: 90.9%
As Sharks fans we got to enjoy the start of the season as the Sharks looked like they would never lose and the Ducks looked like they would never win again. Obviously though the Ducks got picked by many pendants (including yours truly) to be a threat to win the West. While it may be too soon to declare that to be the case I feel slightly less silly about it now. With the ducks on the second half of back to backs I’m curious to see if Frederik Andersen plays his second game in as many nights or if the Sharks will play against yet another backup goalie in Anton Khudobin. If the Sharks face Khudobin it will be an other goalie with some success against the Sharks in a very small sample size. The Sharks will need to be wary of the Ducks power play as their penalty kill continues to struggle. Hopefully the Sharks don’t become the tonic needed for Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler who both are looking for their first goal of the season. Make no mistake the Sharks should be in tough here, it is a good test for them to see what trajectory they are really on.
Projected Ducks Lineup
Maroon – Getzlaf – Perry
Hagelin – Kesler – Stewart
Cogliano – Horcoff –Silfverberg
Wagner – Santorelli – Friberg
Lindholm – Bieksa
Fowler – Manson
Stoner – Vatanen
Breaking Down the San Jose Sharks
Record: 7-6-0, 3rd in the Pacific Division
Current Streak: 1 Win
Power Play Percentage: 13.2%
Penalty Kill Percentage: 75%
The Sharks don’t have much to draw on for momentum right now aside from what I thought was a very well played game against the Florida Panthers. Their game has been up and down like a yo-yo with what feels like much more down than up. However I felt with the game against the Panthers was better than their previous win against the Colorado Avalanche and something that I feel they should be able to build on. Martin Jones will return to the net for the Sharks. Even though I thought Alex Stalock had a solid outing in his last game it is time to see if Jones is refocused and ready to go. The Sharks special teams continue to be a concern and against this ducks team there is no room for error as the Ducks penalty kill is the best in the NHL.
Joonas Donskoi had an excellent game with many questioning why he wasn’t shifted down to the third line with the call up of Nikolay Goldobin, both players excelled in their rolls with Donskoi getting the first star of the game. I have felt that Donskoi has been quietly very good of late and and it was nice to see him rewarded for his efforts. I have been especially impressed with Goldobin, I didn’t know what he’d bring to the third line but the line was good especially as they settled in with each other and his pass to Marc-Edouard Vlasic was a thing of beauty. I have always been concerned about Goldobin panning out because of his play away from the puck but I find myself with a renewed faith in his development.
Finally it appears that we are back to making the worst forth line in hockey game in the absence of Ben Smith (who also has not been great). Mike Brown will draw back into the lineup to play with Micheal Haley and the terribly miscast Matt Nieto. When it comes to these continued line up choices on the fourth line I have no words other than at least their ice time has been cut.
Projected Sharks Lineup
Donskoi – Thornton – Pavelski
Marleau –Hertl –Ward
Goldobin –Tierney –Wingels
Nieto – Micheal Haley – Mike Brown
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Tennyson