Without a doubt, the biggest benefit of having the vast majority of your team sit out during the All-Star Game is the long rest period that the players get to take advantage of in preparation for the pre-playoff push. The Ducks looked incredibly well-rested as they methodically beat down the Canucks 4-0 in British Columbia on Tuesday night. Most notably Frederik Andersen, after turning down an offer to replace Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the ASG, appeared to have gotten over the flu virus that plagued him against Calgary as he earned just his third shutout of the season.
On the flip side, the Sharks only sent one guy to Ohio as well: forward/defenseman/Tooth Fairy victim Brent Burns, and with this being their first game after the break, San Jose will have some very fresh legs ready to rock tonight.
Game Notes: The Sharks haven't been very kind to the Ducks this year to say the least. With the regular season finale looming, San Jose has already won the head-to-head series, outscoring Anaheim 15-8 en route to a 3-0-1 record. The biggest Duck hunters during this less than ideal stretch have been, to nobody's surprise, Joe Pavelski (5 goals) and Logan Couture (3 goals and 3 assists). Needless to say a watchful eye needs to be kept on the team's two leading scorers, or they won't mind tucking the puck behind Freddie a few more times.
Regardless of the Ducks' troubles with those two particular players, they have an incredibly difficult time winning in San Jose in general. The last Anaheim victory in Northern California? March 19, 2012. You could say the Ducks... tank in the Tank.
I'll show myself out.
What Can We Learn From this Game: For most of the season Anaheim has had to fight off some feisty teams and/or poor closing efforts to earn their wins. An uncomfortable majority of them have been one-goal games, and although the team has been phenomenal at coming out on top in such situations (22-0-6) it brings forth the reasonable concern asking, if this team can't ever finish the opposition off during the regular season, how can they expect to do it in a seven game series? Fortunately, the Ducks look like they've been bucking that trend as of late. During this six-game win streak the boys are on at the moment, they have closed out games by three or more goals in four of these nights. If they can keep that kind of dominance alive on the road against a team that they haven't had the easiest of times against, there may be good reason to believe that the Ducks are finally learning how to finish hockey games.
Fearless Prediction: After barely pushing their win streak to seven games in the first game in San Jose after Metallica Night, the Ducks marketing department gets contacted by fellow Honda Center tenant KISS asking if they want to follow suit with a KISS Night for the NHL's top team. The Ducks quickly and thankfully decline.
Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.