Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks: First-Round Series Preview

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ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) deflects a shot while defending San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski (8) in the second period of a game against the Sharks played on February 11, 2018 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks stole the second spot in the Pacific Division in true Anaheim style – last game of the season, almost reminiscent of the way they won the division last year. And the year before. This year, the first round will showcase the Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks in a battle of California teams.

Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks: First-Round Matchup

The Ducks ended the season on a five-game win streak, and a shutout for Ryan Miller. Captain Ryan Getzlaf also notched his 50th assist of the season on Rickard Rakells 34th goal of the year. Josh Manson set a franchise record, ending his regular season with a +34 as a defenseman. The record for overall is held by Paul Kariya with +36 in the 1996-1997 season.

The Sharks ended the season by dropping five of the last six, finishing the year with a loss to Minnesota. Starting goalie Martin Jones didn’t have a strong finish to the season, dropping four of his last five. Captain Joe Pavelski finished his season with 22 goals. His lowest goal total in a full season since 2012. Last year’s James Norris Memorial Trophy, Brent Burns, had a less than stellar season. After finishing with 29 goals and 47 assists in 2016-17, he only managed 11 goals this year.

Captain v Captain

Captains Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Pavelski are both incredibly important to there respective teams. Ryan Getzlaf’s impact on the Ducks can be seen in every aspect of the teams play with and without him. The Ducks record with him is 35-16-5. He continuously leads the Ducks in assists every year and, this year, he played in 56 games and put up 61 points.

Joe Pavelski played in 81 games this season. He put up 65 points (22 goals, 44 assists) in that span. As well as being a gritty player overall, he digs deep every shift. He lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 in his first season as captain. Pavelski also captained Team USA during the World Cup of Hockey is 2016.

The edge goes to Ryan Getzlaf. Despite missing 26 games during the season, and playing with a team that was plagued with injuries all season, he lead his team to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.

Top Defenseman

Last season Brent Burns was nearly unstoppable with 29 goals and 47 assists. He topped it off with a James Norris Memorial trophy. This year, he had a rough start, going goalless for 21 games and only accumulating 6 points in that span. In his first 21 games last season, he put up 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists). But he is still a very talented player and should never be counted out.

For the Ducks, Josh Manson was a sleeper who exploded this year. The natural chemistry between him and defensive partner Hampus Lindholm is undeniable. In 79 games this season he scored 7 goals and had 27 assists. That is nothing special by any means, but he has a +/- of +34. That is good for fifth overall in the NHL and first among defenseman.

The edge is in favor of the Sharks. Brent Burns is an amazingly talented player and he should never ever be underestimated. Not to say that the Ducks blue line is lacking anything, but Burns has a certain “it” factor to his style of play.

Goaltending

The last line of defense and the man who has to always be the best player on the ice. The goalie can make a mediocre team outstanding, and make an outstanding team mediocre.

John Gibson is just starting to come into his prime. He is incredibly talented and watching him play over the last several years, you can see his growth in the NHL. Starting the season with a very injury-riddled team, Gibson kept the ducks in playoff contention all year. Gibson has been injured on and off a few times this year giving Miller chances to stretch his legs throughout the season. Miller held the Ducks together, winning the last three games of the season having a .949 save percentage in that span.

Martin Jones finished the season with a save percentage of .862 in his last five games. Aaron Dell has had a good season with the Sharks, but he is still expanding in the NHL. He has played in 29 games this season, amassing a record of 15-5-4. He shows promise, but he can only do so much as a backup.

The edge definitely falls on the Ducks side for goaltending. Gibson and Miller are the better duo. But Jones did lead the Sharks to the Cup Final in 2016 and should be considered a threat.

What To Look Forward To

The Ducks come into this series riding a hot streak. The whole team has come together and finished the season with a bang. The Sharks are not a “hot” team, but they have the talent and can make a hard push. Everything starts over in the playoffs. The last-seeded team that barely made it into the playoffs in the last wild card spot can make a fantastic push into the Stanley Cup Finals. Last season we saw that with the Nashville Predators. No team should be counted out. Ever.

The Stanley Cup playoffs start on April 11, but the Ducks and Sharks start their series on April 12 at the Honda Center. The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to earn in professional sports and every team leaves everything on the ice every night.

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