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Ducks @ Sharks Preview: Moving On In A Big Hurry

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A little over 24 hours removed from getting whooped on by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Anaheim Ducks are back at it with another one of the west's elite: their northern rivals in the San Jose Sharks.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So that game yesterday kinda stung didn't it?

I mean yeah for starters what can you expect when your defense's average age is barely over 22? Pretty much exactly what you saw. There were a few positives that came out of it, such as holy crap Frederik Andersen. However that's one that kinda hurt to watch and hurts again knowing it could have been far worse. It really was a David vs. Goliath situation out there (unlike most meetings between these two teams over the last several years which have been far closer in competition) and this time David got stomped.

And now the Ducks have the tricky task of shaking it off while traveling up the freeway to face another underperforming, yet still dangerously lethal squad in the San Jose Sharks. At the start of this game, the Sharks find themselves four points removed from the West's final playoff spot, sporting only 24 points through their 24 games played. The Sharks have the second-longest active playoff streak in the league, so you know they're not going to sit there quietly and watch everyone pull away from them.

With one of the most talented offenses in the West on paper, a solid goaltender, and a fierce competitive spirit whenever the Ducks are involved on the other side of the ice, this one isn't shaping up to be an easy recovery game for Anaheim.

Game Notes

The Ducks will continue to be without the services of defenseman-who-now-oddly-resembles-Chris-Pronger-in-terms-of-skill-to-Ducks-fans Clayton Stoner, who it was announced yesterday has in fact contracted yet another case of the Mumps and is day to day. It was also announced yesterday that Francois Beauchemin will be out four to six weeks with a broken hand. (Speaking of broken hands and the San Jose Sharks, Ben Lovejoy appears to be nearing a return but will remain on IR for now.)

This sudden disappearance of pretty much any idea of depth on the Anaheim defense prompted Bob Murray to make an emergency move, trading away the team's third round pick in this year's draft to Tampa Bay for veteran (and possession nightmare) Eric Brewer, who will be suiting up for his Ducks debut tonight.

San Jose remains remarkably healthy as a team (missing only pests Mike Brown and Raffi Torres with injuries) unless you're a backup goaltender. Alex Stalock and Troy Grosenick are both injured, which prompted San Jose to have to sign a local goaltender (and noted Kings fan) to backup Antti Niemi as an emergency backup last time out.

What Can We Learn From This Game

You think the questions surrounding the goaltending were big? How about the spotlight on the Anaheim defense now? Cam Fowler, not yet 23 years old, was the most experienced blueliner on the Anaheim roster last night and carried a lion's share of the minutes (25:22)--third most on the team behind Hampus Lindholm's monumental 29:25 and Sami Vatanen's 27:00.

Mat Clark and Jessie Blacker played only 8:55 and 6:03 respectively in comparison. Meaning Boudreau drastically shortened his bench on defense.

So now the Ducks have some tired blueliners headed north to take on a hungry division rival. Granted, yes, they now have a veteran to help ease some of the load and eat some of those minutes (expect Eric Brewer to get a ton of work in his debut) but this is once again setting up to be a potential disaster, particularly because Jason LaBarbara might be starting.

Oh and did I mention by nature of this loss and the Vancouver Canucks' win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night that the Ducks are no longer atop the Pacific division? Yeah. It's gut-check time here.

What can we learn? Just how resilient is this year's edition of the Anaheim Ducks?

Fearless Prediction

The NHL suspends Corey Perry, Kyle Palmieri, Bruce Boudreau, Bob Murray, Henry Samueli, Wild Wing, and Chris Kober for boarding Marian Hossa. Ryan Getzlaf gets pissed in the wrong way yet again, and the Ducks get destroyed even worse than the last time these two met.