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Sharks vs. Ducks Preview: Battle for the Pacific as long week ends

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Which version of San Jose shows up?

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks didn’t put up much of a fight against the Blues on Thursday night in a disappointing loss. Perhaps that effort came from a combination of exhaustion and looking ahead to tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose hosts Anaheim for the final time this season at 7:30 p.m. in a contest that will all but decide the fate of the Pacific.

So they’ve got to show up for this one, right?

San Jose has had a tough time against Anaheim this year, despite the Ducks taking a step backwards in possession (and points, for that matter) under Randy Carlyle. The Sharks are 2-2 against Anaheim, but those two wins have come in overtime and they’ve been outshot in three of those four games. It’s not ideal.

The Sharks get another chance to play against a team on the second half of a back to back. That didn’t seem to help San Jose much against a hungry St. Louis Blues team on Thursday and the Ducks will be similarly starving for points after beating the Sabres in a shootout on Friday.

I just wanted to improve this chart to show the kind of upgrades the Ducks got by swapping Bruce Boudreau for Carlyle. Nice work, guys! You nailed it! The sledding has been smoother as of late, but make no mistake: this Ducks team is not what it was with Boudreau at the helm, lack of success in game sevens be damned.

That doesn’t have much bearing on tonight’s game, though. San Jose will play their fifth game in eight days tonight while the Ducks will play their fifth in nine days. No excuses: both teams are tired and both have something to play for with the Pacific still up for grabs, despite San Jose sitting in a much more comfortable spot.

The Ducks’ overtime loss against the Sabres moves them to 85 points, six behind the Sharks in the Pacific, and one ahead of the Flames. San Jose has a game in hand on both Calgary and Anaheim, leaving Team Teal in the driver’s seat.

Anaheim has, in my mind, had the better of the play between these teams this year. The Sharks can at best tie the season series in points (the Ducks have six points to San Jose’s four right now) but would just about seal up the division with a victory. Let’s take care of business at the end of this homestand.