Tonights game between Anaheim and San Jose will mark the first time in NHL history that two California based teams will meet in the playoffs. Finishing 26 points apart in the standings and going 2-4 in the season series, the Ducks are coming in as huge underdogs against the Sharks. Both teams are big and play physical, which means that this series will most likely be one of the more physical ones in the first round.
There is no doubt that the Ducks will have their hands full, but if they play the right style, they have a chance to upset the Sharks. First off, they'll need to stay out of the box. San Jose has a lot of fire power and a well organized power play, while the Ducks went 23rd in penalty killing this season. They will also need to get under the skin of Nabokov, and who better to do that than Corey Perry. Throughout the season series Perry has found a way the agitate the netminder. If he can somehow get Nabokov off his game, they'll be able to score with some ease.
Anaheim also has four defensemen who can shut down any line in the league. Niedermayer, Pronger, Beauchemin, and Whitney will have to have a strong series for them to succeed. The will must do as much as possible to shut down San Jose's attack and relieve rookie Jonas Hiller from as much pressure as possible.
Finally, the Ducks are coming in to the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They will need to carry that momentum in to tonights game and throughout the series. Another aspect we can hope for is the past success, or lack there of, the Sharks have had in the past. This is not the first time that San Jose is a cup favorite, but they have never made it to the cup finals. If “No show Joe” Thornton adds to his reputation of not being a big game player, the Sharks could be in for a huge surprise.
DUCKS IN 7!!
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Written by Dan Caristo