The general consensus heading in to this series was that the Ducks were going to give the Sharks a tough challenge for a first round opponent. What nobody would have expected was that Anaheim would be heading home with a 2-0 series lead.
Even Jonas Hiller was a little taken back after game 2, saying “We knew we could play well… But to come into the rink of the best team in the league and win the first two games, we don't expect that, although we have to think it's possible” He also alluded to the fact that the series is not over yet. “I'm sure this is not what people expected from us. We have the two wins, but the Sharks are still the best team this year.”
Game two saw Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Ryan, and Drew Miller all score their first NHL playoff goal and Jonas Hiller make 42 saves during a 3-2 win. Prior to the start of the series, I said that the Ducks needed to stay out of the box to have a chance to win. They have done the opposite, taking twelve penalties in two games. Shockingly, the Sharks have not been able to take advantage of Anaheim's lack of discipline, going 0-12 in the power play. A major reason that the Sharks have had trouble finding the back of the net (besides Hiller), is the play of Chris Pronger. He has dominated the battles in his own end and completely shut down the Sharks top forwards, while making Jonathan Cheechoo's life extremely difficult. We also can't forget that Joe Thornton is up to his regular self in the playoffs. He has been completely invisible since the start of the series and will most likely stay that way here on out.
But as I said earlier, this series is far from being over, but the Ducks hold a huge edge. They have a chance to go up 3-0 tonight at home and all but finish the Sharks. At the same time, Anaheim has not blown them out in the last two games and that should give the Sharks hope. They have been close games and bounces can easily start going to other way. You can expect the Sharks to be a little more relaxed on the road, and not have that home crowd pressure. They finished the season as the best team in the league for a reason and the Ducks need to remember that.
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Written by Dan Caristo