Our Ducks bring their winning record and league worst PK into the Shark Tank to face the undefeated Sharks who just happen to feature hockey’s best PP. Seasoned bettors describe this type of game as a classic trap. Five games into a condensed season is not enough of a sample to establish trends and probabilities. What you can note after five games about the Sharks is that not only are they winning, they are winning handily. Only the smothering trap of the Phoenix Coyotes slowed them. The Sharks scored an EN to defeat the ‘Yotes 5-3.
Sharks roll will be tested against arguably their biggest rival. Bobby Ryan told Eric Stephens, “I know L.A.’s right here,” Ryan said. “But we’ve played San Jose in the playoffs and I’m sure that added to it. I think that the intensity and the pace of the game, every time we play them, is highly elevated.”
Both teams are fired up and ready to go. The obvious is to view this game as a measuring stick. That and other cliche buzz is better left for post game. Call it a measuring stick if it helps the team. Avoid it if it doesn’t.
The best thing former coach Randy Carlyle tried to instill in these Ducks is to stay on an even keel. He preached, “Don’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss.” Our Ducks avoided getting too low after showing their butts for all the world to see in their home opener. They came back and gutted out a win over Nashville.
What this game does represent to our Ducks is the opportunity to take two steps forward. Win, beat hockey’s second hottest team and our Ducks immediately establish themselves as a team not to be taken lightly. Ducks begin to write a story line that could stick for the entire season. Lose and nobody is surprised, Sharks are after all, a team on a roll.
Look for Coach to match strength against strength in the early going. Watch the Sharks come out flying and attempt to put us away early. The first big hit is likely to set the tone for this tilt. This season, our Ducks have some big hitters.
All the usual Keys to the Game apply. Stay out of the box, skate and be aggressive, play smart hockey by providing puck support and out-manning the opposition at the point of attack. Most importantly though is to come out hitting. Pick up your check, establish and maintain inside position on him. Nothing is more frustrating than keeping your check on the outside looking in. Tonight’s gut hunch, Cam Fowler has a big game.