Thearon W. Henderson
San Jose begins a crucial back-to-back tonight in Anaheim before heading back to the Tank tomorrow for a heavyweight bout with Chicago.
|7-0-1, 15 points
||5-1-1, 11 points|
|2nd in Western Conference||5th in Western Conference|
Projected Sharks Lineup
Projected Ducks Lineup
Despite having yet to suffer a regulation loss this season, the Sharks were pretty thoroughly dominated by the Anaheim Ducks last week at the Tank. Sure, a flukey goal by Logan Couture late in the third period forced overtime and an ensuing skills competition where Michal Handzus, who apparently sold his hockey-playing ability to the Robot Devil in exchange for shootout hands, won the game. But San Jose was outshot 53-44 and outchanced 17-9 at even-strength in that one as the Sharks' usually-dominant top line was manhandled by their vile Ducks counterpart.
The frustrating part is that, result aside, it wasn't all that unpredictable of a performance. Anaheim has had the Sharks' number to an annoyingly healthy extent in the recent past. The Ducks have taken 8 of 13 meetings with San Jose since 2010 and have usually been full value for those wins. Based on (extremely) early season returns, this might also be the best team the Ducks have had over that span. Granted, they've been riding the percentages a fair bit; only Tampa Bay has scored on a greater percentage of its even-strength shots than the 12.8% the Ducks have cashed in. Meanwhile, no team in the league has managed a higher power play shooting percentage than Anaheim. Those clips aren't sustainable.
But the fact that the Ducks are probably nowhere near as good as their 5-1-1 record would indicate just doesn't seem to matter tonight. It never does when these California rivals face off. Regardless of their talent level, the Ducks always seem to manage to be a thorn in the Sharks' side. But perhaps, during an early season in which everything that's previously impeded the Sharks has gone in their favor, the team can finally start winning games with regularity against an Anaheim squad they should be better than. They've already done it once in the early going, time to stage a repeat. Go Sharks.