The Anaheim Ducks are not coming off a good performance. Even worse, they find themselves down 3-0 in the series, and one loss away from reaching the end of their season. They enter the Shark Tank for the second time to face the San Jose Sharks in hopes of starting their dig out of the hole they currently find themselves in. Puck drops at 7:30pm PST.
To say the Ducks let the last game get away from them was an understatement. They led in overall scoring chances, but the Sharks capitalized on too many crucial mistakes by the Ducks and it began to get ugly and undisciplined by the end of the second period. You can get a more critical breakdown of how the Ducks wheels fell off from our pal CJ Woodling here.
I want to focus on what the Ducks can do to walk away with a win and chip away at this series. As a reminder, the Sharks were up 3-0 against the Kings a few years back and ended up losing that series, so we all know this team is capable of choking to a talented (when they want to be) Ducks team.
All Eyes On Me
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. They team is nothing without these two voices. They let out their frustration with poor play and penalties to finish the last game, and it showed as the Sharks dismantled the team. Now it’s time for Getz and Pears to take a breath and lead this team. Not just by producing points, but by instilling a sense of composure, discipline, and resilience. This team has showed countless times, including at the end of the regular season, they are a team that can light a fire underneath themselves and go on a run. Getzlaf and Perry are the spark that starts the fire.
Keys to the Game
Reset - There is no reason to linger on the previous 3 games. The Ducks have been mentally outplayed by the Sharks and therefore physically outplayed. Those games don’t matter now. The Ducks are in a win or go home position, and it’s the only position they need to be in. All they need to do is reset their minds and get back to playing Ducks hockey one game at a time.
Positioning - Everyone knows the Ducks need to be more accountable with their penalties. But another area they need to be accountable in is their positioning. When the Sharks began to deflate the Ducks was when they scored two goals in a row on odd-man rushes.
I’m calling Brandon Montour out on this one. The guy looked like a forward for most of the game. Every shift it seemed like he was way below the blue line and trying to make things happen. This can be great, but it also leaves his defensive partner (old man Beauch) left to hang dry if the puck gets turned over, like when he blew a tire trying to go full speed and lead a rush, which resulted in a Sharks goal. It also forces the forwards to adjust from their normal positioning, putting everything out of whack. Overall Montour generates some good offensive chances, but he needs to understand when it is proper time to pinch, and when it is a better time to stay back (see Josh Manson).
Lay it all on the line - There have only been 4 NHL teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit. The odds obviously are not in the Ducks’ favor. If they are going down, they better leave every ounce of energy, every drop of sweat, every bit of desperation they have in them on that ice. They have a message to send to the NHL and to themselves before this season is up. They deserve to be here and they’ll be even better next year with their rising young talent.
No matter how you look at it, tonight is going to end one of two ways. Either the Ducks get swept and start building for next year. Or they begin their journey at becoming the fifth team in NHL history to come back from down 3-0.