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Ducks @ Sharks GAME 4 RECAP: Pulling the Band-Aid Off

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Old Time Hockey is Dead. Long Live New School Hockey

Be Pre-Warned

Before ye enter, be aware that the Ducks did not emerge victorious from this game. For the first time in recent history, the Ducks did not lose to the first good team they faced, and instead lost to a Pacific division team. The horror that unfolded.... I don't want to talk about it.

Heat map for all situations.

But talking about it is what I get paid for (Editors.... my pay cheque please?), so....here we go.

1st Period

This period was played like both teams wanted the series to be over. Neither team really looked like they desperately wanted this game, and as a result, it just didn't really have the feeling of a post-season game. Although that may be in part due to the utterly atrocious lighting in San Jose - seriously WTF are they thinking?

The first few minutes started as an absolute scramble, with both teams lacking poise and control. It almost looks like a little league game, with both teams almost in perpetual motion chasing the puck around the ice in groups.

From there, the Ducks of the 3rd period, Game 3, came out to play. No, no, no. Not the ones at the end that were trying to play the hatchet man, the ones that wanted to miss every pass and allow the SJ forwards to sneak in behind their defence and get open looks on Gibson.

Lets talk turnovers:

18:40 - Ducks turn the puck over behind Gibson

18:00 - Nick Ritchie attempts to chip the puck in and turns it over.

17:50 - John Gibson attempts to clear the puck and turns it over to Tierney. I don’t know who Tierney is, but the Ducks have done their best to make him look like Datsyuk this series.

17:20 - Turnover

16:50 - Evander Kane forecheck causes the Ducks’ defenseman to turn the puck over.

Alright, I’m going to stop here. Rest assured though, I had to take my pants off to count up to 21, and then I got stuck as they kept on piling up. Speaking of notable turnovers, however, a Marcus Pettersson turnover in the neutral zone allowed the Sharks to gain the offensive zone. With the Ryan Getzlaf line labouring after a long-ish shift the Sharks find themselves all alone in front of Gibson. A mad scramble ensues. Sharks Goal. Some please tell me what Andy Welinski was doing, because I’ve got nothing.

While this term finished statistically close, the proof was in the execution. The Sharks passing was crisp and clean allowing them to find the man on the stretch pass and get in behind the Ducks defence. The Ducks conversely played #CarlyleHockey and mish-mashed their way to similar shots and scoring chances, but none that gave Martin Jones any trouble at all.

Given this is the last game of the season and a time to look forward with optimism, a point of interest: Gibson somehow lost his stick behind the net on a simple clear. He may have been the reincarnation of goalie Jesus for most of this year, but his puck-handling skills are at best middle of the range. Definitely a point of improvement for him over the offseason.

2nd Period

Statistically, this was the Ducks’ best period for the series (year?). Crushed the shot attempts and scoring chances, as a result of sustained offensive zone time. A strong period from the second line provided some results, including a magnificent feed to Jakob Silfverberg on the doorstep. Obviously, Martin Jones stopped it because apparently, he morphs from post-season Brian Elliott during the regular season, to regular season John Gibson in the post-season.

The Ducks top line wasn't overly effective overall, however, Corey Perry got a number of chances through this period. In particular, one on which Getzlaf knocked down a clearing attempt and got the puck through to Jones. Perry went to work in the crease and had a number of hacks at it. Looking at those chances and the no result, it’s easy to see why he's still the #3 scorer on the Ducks team, and also why his goal totals are closer to Ritchie’s than Rickard Rakell’s. It will be a point of interest to see what happens with Perry in the offseason. The Ducks are obviously not a top contender in the West, and with that realisation must come change. Perry is in control of his own destiny of course (he holds a NMC), but of the big 3 contracts the Ducks hold, Perry isn't the captain, nor the favoured ex-canuck that we apparently need to have. Could we see Perry moved out of town before next season?

So far as the Sharks however.... Is Logan Couture a ghost? How on earth has he been allowed to continually get in behind the Ducks’ defence and walk in on Gibson all alone? It boggled my mind in ways that only Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man could be boggled. Then, of course, I checked the naturalstattrick.com (I’m open for sponsorship next season...), and found that the Ducks only iced 3 defencemen this series. I say that because Welinski and Pettersson have no business being on NHL ice, and quite frankly Brandon Montour is little more than a power play specialist that should be hidden in the spot that Welinski was using to showcase his wares to the KHL teams looking to hire next season.

Penalties were called relatively evenly across the period. I mentioned this in the game thread, and will again here. Those complaining about missed calls are the same people who play video games on easy mode. We shouldn't be asking for parity, we should simply be asking for better, for the refs to pick up all the calls - on this I agree. But it isn't the reason the Ducks lost the game. They did that by themselves, and that's where criticism should be directed. It sure sucks, don't get me wrong, but complaining about spilt milk is something our fan base as a whole should attempt to be better than - that goes for you too Shark fan, who has come wandering across.

That said, the Ducks got a couple power plays, and for the most part looked ok; or as ok as their season, in general, has looked. Numerous perimeter shots were blocked, and a fumble by Montour allowed the Sharks to reset at times. On one of the power plays, I have to anoint Sorenson as the series MVP. For the life of me there was about a minute where I couldn't tell who had the man advantage. He was all over the puck like Ritchie on a big mac.

Speaking of Ritchie, he obviously didn't learn from the fallout of Game 3. I’m not entirely sure what made him decide to go after the Sharks after Fehr had been called for a penalty - after the whistle, and after he was already sitting in the box - but, if you’ll pardon my French, fuck me he’s a dumb shit. I know the Ducks’ power play is bad, but that's not an excuse to try and give it back (although thankfully, he didn't). The Sharks conversely also looked ok with the man advantage, although they did get some shots through to Gibson and force him to make saves.

3rd Period

Rakell Scores! oh.... wait. Nope, Getzlaf pulled up early and the Ducks went offside. Still 2 no-goals on one powerplay??? That's progress!

Of course not long after Montour decided to show his affection and give Kane a love tap to the face with his stick, sending the Ducks on the kill again. A huge power play in which the Sharks got all the chances. How many you ask? All of them. It’s unfair to have Burns on the ice, but have him they do, and he proceeded to fire with reckless abandon. Still, no goals, because Gibson is hockey Jesus incarnate.

The Ducks were gifted another power play, but Adam Henrique managed to miss passes on two consecutive plays, which ruined the momentum on both. For such a big part of the Ducks regular season success, Henrique crumbled under the pressure of having to do literally anything, in this series. Being invisible would have been a step in the right direction for he and his linemates.

Then... BAM Ryan Kesler did a thing. To be more precise, Silf won a puck battle along the boards, got the puck in deep behind the net to Kesler, who rifled in front of the net to Andrew Cogliano. The man with them sweet hands now has more postseason goals than the Edmonton Oilers. Most notably, this goal ensured that the Ducks walked out of this postseason with more goals than the LA Kings (suckers).

Mere moments after however, another turnover - this one by our current, and soon to be ex (maybe??), captain Ryan Getzlaf - resulted in the Sharks scoring. Getzlaf threw the puck up the wall where it was picked off clean by an open Sharks player. The puck went to the net, where Gibson couldn’t corral the redirected puck. Tomas Hertl scores.

And that's all that really happened. The final goal was the nail in the coffin. The remaining minutes were relatively even, but the sting had gone out of the game. I knew. You knew. The Ducks knew. The Sharks knew. (Way back on Monday - lets be realistic here) That this game was done. Gibson was pulled for the last few minutes, but the Ducks didn't threaten a shot with the man advantage, and the Sharks looked content to finish the game without a repeat of Game 3 shenanigans.

There we have it.

So Cal broomed out of the playoffs, along with the rotting carcass of old-time hockey and the big bad anythings. The Sharks move on to a date with the final Pacific division easy beat, before a potential match up with a real hockey team (Go Jets!!!!). The Ducks are left to pick up the pieces and assess where they really sit in the pecking order of the NHL. For many fans this may mean changes from the top down, but one thing is for sure, another season like this one will have them on the outside looking in.