The Anaheim Ducks 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night had all the makings of a heavyweight prize fight. The Sharks avenged a 5-0 loss in Anaheim on November 21st with a come from behind 4-3 win in San Jose a week before Christmas.
Both teams were confident, looking to dictate the physical play early, and send a message to the rest of the league in the process.
Boy, the alarm goes off at 6AM, which makes it hard to write about a game immediately afterward. Makes life interesting some days (especially when I stay up too late the night before…)
So I’ll let the good folks at Sharkspage talk about the game, and only make a few extra comments:
The first period was some of the fastest, most intense, highest tempo, DAMN GOOD hockey I’ve seen, period. anywhere, any year. Almost no whistles, and both teams played exceptional.
Nabokov had a weak game. Unfortunately, he’s had just enough of those to make me worry — and he simply CAN’T do it against the ducks. He’s a damn good goalie, but if I had a crunch game, Toskala would be in goal. If that pisses off Nabokov, well, two soft goals against the Ducks made a winnable game into a loss. Stop giving up weak goals, Nabby. Or last night, you were forgiven for the first one by me with the saves right at the end of the first period — unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough.
The Sharks missed McLaren last night; the team D is fine when both McLaren and Hannan are in the game, but when one is out, it stretches the team’s defense thing. major props to the rest of the defense for stepping it up (especially Gorges, who had what I felt was his best game of the season) — but it wasn’t quite enough against the Ducks. Again, a winnable game that was lost. This was the second key to the loss.
third key to the loss: the Sharks legs looked tired in the third; not by a lot, but by enough. the Ducks seemed to be a better conditioned team, and when both teams simply tried to skate the other out of the building, the Ducks seemed to have slightly better reserves late in the game.
three games in, Ducks lead the series 2-1. I have to say, right now, that the Ducks are the better team. Not by much, but you can’t squint at this and call it a tie any longer. the better team IS winning. I wouldn’t want to see the Sharks and Ducks in a playoff series, I don’t think the Sharks can do it.
I’m not sure what the answer is, either. another veteran blueliner — a good, legitimate one — might help, but I’m not sure that’s what the Sharks need to win 3 of the next five games against the Ducks.
In fact, I don’t think I’d change anything, unless the “right” deal for a goaltender arrived with the proper serving of good skating talent in return. It may just be that the Ducks (barring injuries) are going to be the better team this year.
(quick note: Pavelski was told to get a room and a real number — to nobody’s surprise, he’s not going back to the AHL, and he’s now wearing #8, last worn by Teemu Selanne. Eventually, one has to guess the mystical magical groin injury that keeps putting Crowe on the IR will heal and he’ll head down….