The Anaheim Ducks started this season off hot, sitting pretty at the top of a Pacific Division that struggled to find its footing for almost the entire first month of the season. Let us not forget opening night, the last time we saw the Ducks. Though they were a battered team down several key pieces, their goaltending held strong and gave them the victory.
The San Jose Sharks are coming off a hard fought overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Though they struggled a bit, the Sharks should not be underestimated and there is no reason to throw in the towel. Sure, Erik Karlsson still hasn’t found the back of the net in a teal jersey, but things take time. The Sharks are currently sitting first in the Pacific, so I mean we have that. The new guy Antti Suomela scored his first NHL goal in that game, which is exciting. The power play is coming together, Tomas Hertl has a goal and is hopefully not broken. Things are going to be okay, I promise. The Sharks can certainly bite this battered Ducks team, bringing their losing streak to five straight games.
As for the Ducks, it’s been really rocky down there. The team has seem to put all their eggs in John Gibson’s basket and it’s starting to show. Without much of anything to provide beyond Gibson saving a lot more goals than he should be, they’re currently on a four-game losing streak. They fell 3-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks and most recently, 5-2 to the Dallas Stars.
The Ducks have seen the return of veteran staples to their line up like captain Ryan Getzlaf and fan favorite Ryan Kesler. Getzlaf had a great night against the Stars, finding the net twice. No one else showed up offensively, while Gibson had a much more realistic .878 save percentage. The Ducks are finally starting to come down from their early season high.
Is John Gibson cracking under the pressure?
Gibson is great between the pipes, the Sharks have seen that first hand. The Ducks have a few holes that need to be filled in their offense and defense and it seemed as though they expected Gibson to fill those voids with saves. He has for the most part, but things are starting to look rough. He made 36 saves on 41 shots against the Dallas Stars. As the Ducks struggled to find the net, Gibson couldn’t save the day.
Ryan Miller, the Ducks’ backup, stepped in against the Buffalo Sabres. That game was certainly not a positive one for the Ducks. He made 41 saves on 44 shots. In perspective, the Sabres goalie Connor Hutton only saw 28 shots on goal and saved 26 of them. I don’t think Gibson is cracking under the pressure as much as the Ducks are relying on him instead of tackling their real issues on the ice.
Will the Ducks be desperate?
I think it’s pretty safe to assume this game is going to be a scrappy one. The Ducks and the Sharks do not like each other. It doesn’t help that the Ducks are coming off a tough week of losses. I think we will see a team desperate to win. Against the Stars, a full on, vintage hockey fight broke out between Anaheim’s Markus Pettersson and Dallas’ Radek Faska. They are frustrated, and rightfully so. I think they are going to at least attempt to pull out all the stops to get a win on their home ice against a division rival.
No Corey Perry!
Not a question, just a comment. Corey Perry is especially intolerable against the Sharks. Aside from being a nuisance, Perry plays a big role on this team. It was announced in September that he would be out roughly five months after having knee surgery. He is expected to return sometime in February. The Sharks will certainly benefit from Perry being sidelined. The right winger had 49 points last season. Though that’s a bit lower than expected from Perry, as much as we hate to admit it, he still is a key point producer for Anaheim.
Bold Prediction: Erik Karlsson isn’t just going to score his first goal, he is going to get a HAT TRICK. Yes, you heard it here first. You think he’s in a slump? No way. Get your hats ready, throw them at your TV.
Leave your bold predictions in the comments below!