Sharks Gameday: The Duck Stops Here

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7:30 PST
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4-6-1, 9 points 4-3-1, 9 points
14th in Western Conference
12th in Western Conference
Television
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Anaheim Calling
Battle of California

Following the Anaheim Ducks through the first few games of the season was great, from a Sharks fan's perspective. Through the first week or so of the season, Antti Niemi would have been second in points on the Ducks to Saku Koivu. The Ducks had no defense, or offense, or any other kind of fense. Jonas Hiller and Curtis McElhinney did as much as they could do when facing around 50 shots per night, well, as much as any non-Craig Anderson goalie could do.

And then I got caught up in the San Francisco Giants' postseason run, because hey, we're in this thing where there's magic inside. So imagine my surprise when I checked the standings last night and... WAIT THE DUCKS HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF POINTS AS THE SHARKS?!

Granted, the Ducks have played three more games than the Sharks have, and managed to achieve a feat only three others have done thus far - lose to the New Jersey Devils - but no matter. Seeing the Ducks above the Sharks in the standings is like rain on your wedding day - certainly not ironic, but kind of a downer. 

So this is a must-win, of course.

It is not solely a must-win game based on the opponent (although beating the Ducks is always quite fun). This game is also a chance for the Sharks to show some consistency on the ice. As awesome as the 13-point night was by the top line against the Devils, I highly doubt that will happen again tonight. Oh, I'm all for them proving me wrong, but I'd be quite happy if it was a close game with the secondary scoring contributing. The lower lines played well against New Jersey; with any luck they'll be rewarded.

Something of note, current Sharks goals, assists, and points leader Joe Thornton was absolutely dominant against the Ducks last season. In the six games between the two Pacific Division rivals, Thornton had 5 goals, 9 assists, and 14 points, and was a +7 against them. A fourth of his goals last season came against Anaheim. Maybe his performance in the 2009 playoff series was bugging him, maybe Jonathan Cheechoo's Duck-killer spirit possessed him for those games, who knows. Hopefully he keeps it up.

Here's to hoping that the Sharks decide not to dress up as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (or the Edmonton Oilers) for Halloween, and put in a good, steady effort that sees them play consistently well in all facets of the game. Oh, and win. Can't forget that part.

Prediction: Sharks win, 4-1. Goals by Thornton, Pavelski, Murray, and McGinn. Ducks goal by the HP Pavilion boards. Corey Perry will run whoever is playing in goal for the Sharks. I will yell out "DUCKS SUCK!" at a sporting event tonight. 

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