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BEST AND WORST: Ducks vs Sharks (2/2/16) - Back In The Running

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With last night's win over the San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks are currently sitting as the 3rd seed in the Pacific.

No need to reiterate the importance of the first game back from the post-All- Star break. Sure, the Pacific Division is outright terrible, but that is also the very reason why this will end up a rat race to the finish. Before the game, the Anaheim Ducks were on the outside looking in; five points behind 2nd seed San Jose, and two points behind 3rd seed Arizona Coyotes (with two games in hand). But after taking the two points from the Sharks, the Ducks are now sitting in 3rd, three points behind the Sharks with a game in hand. Like I said, it's really going to get down to the wire in the Pacific.

Best: THIS SHOT.

The first one was an absolute beauty. Can you say PEW PEW?!!!

Worst: Cam Fowler's return was not nearly what we hoped.

Watching Cam Fowler on the ice was a tad painful. I mean, I'll give him a pass since he is coming back from an injury, but boy, he had some serious miscues. Regularly known as one of the better skaters on the team, Cam looked like baby Bambi at times, tangled beneath his own skates. He did not keep the point well, missing several passes. He is usually the most reliable and confident of the blueliners in skating down the puck, but we were not able to see too much of that last night. Oh, and there was also that undisciplined hook penalty in the remaining two minutes that gave the Sharks a six-on-four opportunity. Yeah, you can definitely thank Freddie there Cam. But like I said, most of us will give him a pass considering that was his first night back--I'm sure he will be back to form soon enough.

Best: Freddie Andersen stands tall.

Just as Cam was bad, Frederik Andersen was spectacular. The Ducks were not as tight defensively as we have seen as of late. There were some pretty close calls during the penalty kill, but Freddie stood tall and walled off any attempts. And when the Ducks were outnumbered by two men in the dying two minutes, Freddie never lost his cool despite being peppered with shots.

There has been so much speculation about the fate of the Great Dane due to the recent emergence of All-Star John Gibson. But consider this....the schedule has the Anaheim Ducks paced to practically play every other night. It's a long season and in juries are bound to happen. The Ducks are fortunate to have two goaltenders that are getting hot at the right time of the season.

Worst: Why are you so surprised? This was how our power play always used to look.

Yeah you remember how we used to roll our eyes and discount the two minutes of man advantage because that's how bad the Ducks' power play was? Well, you shouldn't be too surprised, because it really wasn't all too long ago. That same lackluster power play has decided to emerge and prevent the Ducks from being a threat. Honestly, there are times that the Ducks play worse with five-on-three advantage than even strength.

There was too much hesitancy before shots (coughGetzlafcough) and the Ducks looked a bit lost in most of the time spend in their zone. While the cycling along the boards gave the Ducks good possession of the puck, the point of the cycle is to create openings on the inside, which didn't exactly pan out.

Some credit does need to be given to the Sharks penalty kill unit, as they were much more aggressive in keeping the puck on the periphery and along the boards. There were small sparks and missed opportunities here and there (Jakob Silfverberg flat out whiffed on a perfect dish and point blank shot), but the Ducks really need to go back to the drawing boards on the power play again.

Best: Bruce's line swapping experiment seems to still be producing.

The swapping between the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry lines with Rickard RakellDavid Perron, Chris Stewart, and Patrick Maroon seems to be working. Who would've have thought that splitting the Twins would actually end in more goals. The Perry-Rakell-Maroon line has been extremely effective in finding chances in front of the net. The addition of Perron to the line-up has been a complete win for the Anaheim Ducks. Perron has a knack for finding the right positioning at the right times. Sure Jiri Sekac had some fancy skills, but Perron keeps his game simple and simply finds the best areas to create activity.

Worst: Most of the 3rd period.

The opening five-six minutes of the 3rd period was outright atrocious. It was a bit strange, as it seemed like the Ducks were attempting to relive the 3rd period lockdown they were able to achieve against the Sharks in a previous 1-0 goal lead. But the fact was that the Ducks were just not playing as tightly of defense to remain in just a defensive mode. The Ducks looked exhausted as they hardly made any attempt on creating a forecheck.

BestWorst: That moment when you realize you just cheered for Ryan Garbutt.

Who would've thought that we would ever EVER cheer for a widely known di** known as Ryan Garbutt?!!! [EE- This is exactly how it's supposed to go & why it was a great move] I'll say this... You can guarantee that Sekac would have most likely: a) Skated past the puck, B) Completely whiffed on said puck, or C) Attempted some fancy dangle with the puck that would have ended up on the tape of a Shark. Ha.

Three Stars

3) Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler remains a beast. He did not show up on the point sheet but he just dominates on both ends of the ice. The Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg checking line had several chances at Martin Jones, and this was primarily because of Kesler's backchecking and forechecking efforts. As we saw on the recent road trip, his efforts are now translating into points. Let's hope it continues in that way.

2) Hampus Lindholm

Hampus scored his first career shorthanded goal off a beautiful feed from Getzlaf. I mean tic-tac-goal. Lindholm's shot was aimed perfectly far side, top cheese. And defensively, on a night that both Fowler and Simon Despres looked wobbly, Lindholm really did step up to hold the blue line together.

1) Frederik Andersen

There a lot of fanfare surrounding Gibson this season. But Freddie was absolutely tremendous in this game against the Sharks. Please Bruce, put him in against the Kings on Thursday, because we are all very aware of Gibby's record against our crosstown rivals.