The Ducks are headed back to Honda Center tonight to try to even up the series in Game 2. Down one game to none, the Sharks currently hold the upper hand in the matchup. Can Anaheim pull out a clutch win before headed up the 5 freeway (or PCH for all the scenic folk out there) or will they fall into a 2-0 hole? Tune in to tonight’s game at 7:30pm to see for yourself.
Unfortunately, the Ducks’ Game 1 performance was nowhere near adequate. After finishing up the regular season 10-1-1, Anaheim looked prime to continue their hot streak. They had their star goalie back in the crease along with their entire forward group. All they could show for that was a 3-0 loss to a San Jose Sharks team that finished the regular season with a 1-4-1 record.
Luckily, it is a best of 7 series with plenty of time for a comeback. Game 2 presents a new opportunity for Anaheim’s playoff hopes. The Ducks have a legitimate shot at picking up the W, but it’ll take a team effort to do so.
All Eyes On Me
You heard me. It is up to the Ducks’ head coach to will his team to victory tonight. The Ducks looked so uninspired Thursday night that it is difficult to pin the blame on the players. The game plan was not up to the level of Carlyle’s adversary—Peter DeBoer.
Carlyle was unable to make any mid-game structural changes, which allowed the Sharks to swim freely all over the ice. Carlyle and his coaching staff need to address the Shark’s defensive system. While on 5v5, the Sharks thrived on flooding the middle of the ice. They block and limit shots below the circles. On the penalty kill, the Sharks are extremely aggressive and attack the puck no matter where it is. This modern and effective style of penalty killing (take note, Anaheim) is still beatable. Both can be exploited with good passing, which was nowhere to be found in the opening game. One timers are the key. Look to players like Brandon Montour to fire quick shots from their off wings.
Keys to the Game
Stay out of the penalty box
The narrative is that refs put their whistles away in the playoffs. However, that is tough to do when the Ducks take obvious and unnecessary penalties. Anaheim ended up taking seven minor penalties during Game 1. That’s a whopping 14 minutes of play. It is difficult to get any kind of 5v5 rhythm going when your team’s “leadership” is taking constant offensive zone penalties. If the Ducks can stay out of the box, they will be much more likely to hold onto the puck and play in the Sharks’ defensive zone. As a result, the Sharks are more likely to take their own penalties. Was that inspirational? I should be a coach one day.
The Ducks desperately need a first period goal. Not only for themselves but to get the home crowd into the game early. If the Ducks are going to have any chance in this series, they need to regain their offensive confidence. John Gibson should not need to win this series all by himself. Look to the third line, most notably Ondrej the Giant Kase, to get the party started in Anaheim. The Ducks had the possession numbers of a decent team in the opening game but need to create more threatening chances if they are going to solve Martin Jones. Speaking of Jones, let it fly and shoot high. Chances are a Ryan Getzlaf snot-rocket will go top shelf tonight.