Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks
Sunday, February 11th, 5PM PST
Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
TV: PRIME, NBCSN
Radio: AM 830
Your enemy: Fear the Fin
To say it lightly, this matchup is a big one, folks. After a win Friday night against Edmonton, the Ducks improved their record to 27-19-10 for a total of 64 points. San Jose is also coming off a win last night against the same Oilers. The Sharks now have a 29-18-8 record for 66 points. Throw in the fact that Anaheim has played 56 games while San Jose sits one less at 55, and you realize that this game is a doozy. The Ducks can’t pass San Jose in the standings tonight given the games played margin, but they can leap frog the Los Angeles Kings who sit at 65 points. LA lost last night to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their 55th game of the season.
Since this is a division matchup, this is really a four-point game. If Anaheim drops the contest, they’ll sit 4 points behind San Jose. However, if they win they’ll be tied. The Ducks clearly need a regulation win to call tonight a success.
But can they do it?
After a lackluster road trip, Anaheim has won two straight games against non-playoff teams. The Ducks will look to build off that momentum against an actual playoff team tonight. Luckily for them, San Jose played less than 24 hours before against those heavy (aka slow) Edmonton Oilers. Aaron Dell and the Sharks defense gave up four goals, so it looks like Martin Jones will be getting the start. Every goal against came at even strength, which gives the Anaheim offense hope that they can pull this one out without drawing too many penalties.
All Eyes On Me
Joe Pavelski picked up two goals and two assists in last night’s comeback victory. In the last two games, he has a total of 6 points. That’s some University of Wisconsin-Madison leadership right there. Anaheim’s defense will need to keep a close eye on the Sharks scoring forward (42 points). Of course Brent Burns leads the team with 47 points. Joe Thornton remains out of the lineup due to a severe knee injury, which puts even more pressure on the Sharks veteran forward core.
Anaheim is a different story. The top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, and Corey Perry remains Hansel hot and doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. Since coming together three games ago against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the line as been responsible for 6 of the team’s 11 total goals. In that span Getzlaf has 1 goal and 3 assists, Perry 2 and 4 (yes, Perry is still good), and Rakell 3 and 1. How do teams stop that kind of play? We’ll see if the Sharks can come up with the recipe tonight.
Keys to the Game
With the Sharks coming off a late Saturday night game against another divisional opponent, the Ducks need to be on the gas from the get go. Early puck possession in the offensive zone will be the key to wearing down the Sharks skaters. There’s nothing more physically and mentally draining then watching the other team pass around you. Skate, cycle, and celly hard.
This game will surely be a good one. Well, as long as Bieksa doesn’t get in the way.