Already down by one game in this opening round series and desperately needing to get a win at home so that they would be guaranteed a return visit back home, the Anaheim Ducks came out firing to start. They got some early luck on Jakob Silfverbergs opening score and finished that up with punishing physical play and spurts of relentless pressure.
Yet things would not continue to go the Ducks way, the Sharks fought back and tied things up. Executing on well coordinated plays that left the Ducks own haphazard attempts for some semblance of offense slightly wanting. The visitors would eventually take the lead and never looked back, killing the Ducks with their speed. The eventual game winner, an example of how much better Anaheim needs to be with their man to man play; or just how much better skilled the San Jose offense is.
Note: This is exactly the kind of play we know that Rickard Rakell can make and that we actually need him to step up and do.
So its on to San Jose where they could sweep the series but we are silently rocking back and forth in the corner trying not to think about that because hey? Yknow what, this does feel kind of like one of those series where all the pressure is on the home team in their building, so lets give them some of that shall we? Its not like the Sharks have never been up by say... 3 games? in a series before and still managed to lose it.
PS The Gulls lost today so their season is now over; which is really quite terrible since they had been in a playoff position for the last few months. But the silver lining there is the Ducks now have the option of mixing and matching maybe a Roy and Kossila on the 4th line, if things get super desperate and there is nothing else left to lose.
Best and Worst
Best - Offensive zone pressure and puck possession
CF% was 50/50 for both teams; which - I don’t remember the game 1 stats - but that seems better. There were also a lot of lengthy periods of time with the Ducks keeping the Sharks from leaving their zone and generating 2 or 3 average to dangerous quality scoring chances from it. Granted the Sharks had some of their own time in the Ducks zone but to me it seemed that the Ducks enjoyed a lot more.
Worst - Ricky not feeling it
The decision to put Kase on the Getzlaf line seemed like a good idea to start but as play went on it either seemed like he was outplaying Rakell or that Ricky was just flat out lost playing next to him. He was the worst forward at CF% Rel with -6.20 and was a -18.33 SF% for 2nd worst on the team. Something that needs to change before the next game is putting Kase back with Henrique and Ritchie, and Perry back with Getzlaf and Rakell.
Best - Gibby leveled up after the midway point
Although he could not be too badly faulted for the first two goals, he (and his team-mates on the ice at the same for the play) was a massive let down on that Hertl goal. But since that tally, he stepped up and stopped several Sharks chances that his more average peers would not be judged badly on letting in. In short - Gibby is definitely back; I just hope he is back permanently.
Worst - Mistakes, penalties and lack of execution
The most frustrating thing to see when watching the Ducks trying to tie a game that they desperately need to win is watching them flail about seemingly without a plan or communication. If nothing is working, then go back to basics. Feed the point, crash the net, get rebound; rinse and repeat. If you do that, then you ultimately will be less likely to take a penalty due to controlling the play. Sigh.
Best - Additional options now available
As stated above; sadly the Gulls were eliminated today - forced out of the playoff position that they had occupied for the past 2 months due to missing Andy Welinski on call-up and failing to execute (sound familiar) against some of the lesser foes that they had a very good chance of beating down the stretch. But I digress. What this now means is the entire Gulls roster is at the Ducks disposal. The best and most likely candidates to see action from the forward group are Kevin Roy (seen earlier this season) and Kalle Kossila (lead the Gulls in points and goals). Those two are the definite stand outs. Veterans such as Corey Tropp and Sam Carrick are additional options who have more NHL experience but if the Ducks want to inject some excitement; then Roy and Kossila would be the best ones to do it. Jake and Felix mentioned these two on the postgame pod but let me also throw in one more name as a long shot.
Keifer Sherwood. The kid is fresh out of college yes; but so is Troy Terry. Like Troy Terry he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time for that big game tying and/or winning goal. He scored an OT game winner on his debut with the Gulls.
Three Stars Of The Game:
1. Jakob Silfverberg
Without a doubt the Ducks best player on the ice, even with the gimme goal. Silf is known to get hot at this time of year and it should be no surprise that he seems to be entering that zone yet again. If he could please drag the rest of the team with him that would be awesome.
2. Hampus Lindholm
Does what Hampus does, stops goals, drops bodies and scores power play goals. He and Manson had the best CF% Rel on the team at 18.43. There isn't a heck of a lot else to say but that we all wish that we could clone him.
3. Ondrej Kase
Controversial possibly but it wasnt his fault the coaches put him on a line he didnt have much chemisty with and did not switch him back, even when a little sexy line shuffling action might have produced another goal. Kase just played the same game he has played all year; relentless forecheck, no give on puck-battles and sporadic spin moves in the offensive zone to give himself more time to make a play. Sure he massively stuffed up on that weak behind the back pass in the 3rd but other than that, I thought he played a flawless game.
Next up is San Jose on Monday in San Jose.