Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Wood of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
Entering Sunday’s game, the Ducks are 10-5 in their previous 15 visits to HP Pavilion, including a 1-2 mark in three regular-season games this season, and are 24-19-3 all-time in San Jose. By contrast, the Ducks are only 18-22-5 all-time against the Sharks in Anaheim, with losses in two of three games this season.
Home ice, then, doesn’t appear as if it will be a critical factor in this series.
“I think it’s just that they’re such tight games,” Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne said. “Every game is like a playoff game, even during the regular season. I don’t think it matters where you play.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
He’s a nice guy, fun to be around. Sweet hands. Big body. Good teammate. Doesn’t ever play the “I’m a star” card.
But when the light goes on for the playoffs, it’s like he gets stage fright. Does he have it in him to be a lead dog in the playoff race, like Vincent Lecavalier, another highly talented centre, was with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004? Or the mild-mannered but zealously competitive Joe Sakic for all those years in Colorado?
Admittedly, it took Steve Yzerman 14 years before he carried his first Stanley Cup in Detroit and legitimized his career. Super Mario Lemieux didn’t win until he was seven years along the NHL trail in Pittsburgh. But this is Thornton’s 11th NHL season. His legacy continues to be that of a wonderful player in the regular season, a guaranteed top-10 point-producer.
from Allison High of SanJoseSharks.com,
II’s not out of the ordinary for the rookie coach to bark at his players, but after seeing their slow start to practice, McLellan whistled his men back to the white board.
“It’s April,” said McLellan. “We wish that they could come out and be sharp right from minute one to minute 45, but sometimes they have to be woken up. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time. I was happy with the pace of practice. The execution early wasn’t as good, but it got a lot better and we should be ready to play.”
This strategy is not uncommon for coaches at this time of the year. McLellan explained that the same thing happened in Detroit during his tenure. And by doing it on Saturday in San Jose, the Sharks responded. The twenty minutes spent on special teams’ drills was some of San Jose’s best.
“We were still asleep,” explained Sharks center Jeremy Roenick in response to his coach’s pep talk. “A little wakeup call is always nice.”
from Gary Peterson of the Mercury News,
The home crowd booed its way to the exits. The Sharks seemed somewhat less affected.
“We’ve got a good veteran club here,” Joe Thornton said afterward. “You know, we lost Game 1 last year against Calgary.”
The outcome went over poorly with the home crowd in part because the prelude was so delicious. The final strains of the national anthem were still echoing through the building when the two sides began pounding one another like brothers
from Jamie Baker of the Seagate Broadcasters Blog,
· Despite the loss still had more scoring chances and shots than the Ducks.
· The Sharks did a very good job in the defensive zone and good defense wins championships. Just because the Sharks didn’t score does not mean they abandon good defensive play.
· Dan Boyle didn’t score but he had the best chances for the Sharks and got unlucky by hitting the post.
· The Sharks defense had 17 shots on net. If that trend continues the Sharks forwards, with a few adjustments and better body position down low, should be able to get some screen/tip/rebound goals.
It’s a Best of 7 Series
We knew this was going to be a close, tight checking series. The Ducks played a tremendous road game last night but the Sharks did a lot of good things and also left room to play better. It’s the first to four, not the first to one. This series is far from over.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
After three consecutive second-round playoff exits the San Jose Sharks decided that to reach the next level they needed players who had proven their poise under pressure.
So they brought in six players who had won a collective nine Stanley Cup championships, moves that seemed justified when the team compiled the NHL’s top regular-season record.
So much for the value of postseason experience.
Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 35 shots in his NHL playoff debut Thursday and made third-period goals by Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf stand up as the eighth-seeded Ducks upset the top-seeded Sharks, 2-0, at a stuffed and stunned HP Pavilion.
Hiller, who was helped by the goalpost several times, said the Ducks “got kind of lucky.” Maybe so, but they were good when they had to be, killing off six disadvantages.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
Can’t happen again. Can’t.
Tonight, for the fifth straight spring of playoff hockey, the teal tribe of hope will gather. The men. The women. The children. The drunk. The sober. And the desperate.
Desperate not to be disappointed, that is.
Can’t happen again. Can’t. The tribe members will be wearing Shark jerseys. They will parade down Santa Clara Street toward HP Pavilion. They will go inside. They will yell their throats into raw tissue. They will want to believe that the Sharks can’t possibly follow up another outstanding regular season with an early exit from the Stanley Cup tournament that decides the NHL champion.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
With apologies, as always, to David Letterman, this devoted puckhead presents “My Top 10 Reasons the Ducks Will Stun the San Jose Sharks in the Opening Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs”:
10. The Ducks have the road-ice advantage.
No, I’m not joking. Granted, the Sharks had a phenomenal home record at H.P. Pavilion (32-5-4), but did you know the Ducks won more road games than the Sharks during the regular season? You can look it up. The Ducks won 22 away from home; the Sharks, only 21.
The Ducks also won convincingly in their last meeting in San Jose, a 5-2 romp a week ago Saturday.
“That was big,” Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ leading scorer, said earlier this week after practice. “We gained a bit of confidence going in there and winning. It’s going to help in the playoffs.”
9. Sharks center Joe Thornton, a former NHL MVP, gets all the publicity, but did you know Getzlaf (25 goals, 66 assists for 91 points) outscored Thornton (25-61, 86 points) during the regular season? Didn’t think so.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
San Jose lost only four of its first 38 games in regulation; survived a 14-game period in which they played without their No. 1 goaltender Evgeni Nabokov; and as recently as three weeks ago, were winning games on a regular basis, despite playing without seven injured regulars.
In some NHL markets, that would constitute reasons for a parade. In San Jose, where the Sharks won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s regular-season champions, it represents a first step only.
“A lot of teams prepare just to get into the playoffs and then see what happens,” said Sharks defenceman Rob Blake. “Our focus, all year, is to do something in the playoffs - and knowing you have the group that could accomplish that is a big difference.”
from Randy Hahn of the Seagate Broadcasters Blog,
Finally. A NORCAL vs SOCAL Stanley Cup Playoff series. The Sharks vs the Ducks in a best of seven affair that could go down as one of the best the boys in teal have ever been involved in. It’s a dream series. We know the hockey will be terrific and intense but more about that in the days to come.
The fact that two teams within California are going head to head is terrific. For once, most of the state will have some interest in the NHL Playoffs at the same time.
added 10:05pm, from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
Remember the final frenzied seconds of their last regular-season meeting a week ago Sunday at Honda Center, a 3-2 Ducks loss, when all you-know-what broke loose on the ice?
There were bodies and fists flying everywhere and players jumping on piles, with both teams accusing the other of cheap shots after Ducks leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf was knocked down in the slot — without a whistle -— as he prepared to shoot the puck.
That bad blood likely will carry over into their playoff series, as will the intensity on the ice and in the stands. That’s why the records and seeding — San Jose (53-18-11, NHL-best 117 points) is the top seed and the Ducks (42-33-7, 91 points) are No. 8 — might be irrelevant when the playoffs open this week in San Jose.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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