PreGame PostUp: Sharks @ Ducks

Posted: 10/13/2011 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

The new look Guppies followed the California current south but unlike Nemo, San Jose’s clown fish swam to shore in Long Beach. This is a different Sharks team our Ducks have enjoyed disappointing in recent years. The blue line is bolstered with the arrival Brent Burns. The attack has a different look with Martin Havlat in place of Dany Heatley. Less hyped but perhaps crucial is the addition of former L.A. King Michal Handzus.

If Havlat merely matches Heatley’s production of 26 goals and 64 points he won’t be a disappointment. The bigger deal is what Burns and Handzus bring as complete hockey players. Burns, if not a genuine #1 D-man is certainly of solid 1A quality. At 26 years of age Burns is also heading into his peak years as an athlete. The addition of Handzus allows Pavelski to move to the wing where he’s more effective and also improves the Sharks defensively and on the PK.

Our Ducks are a little different as well. Gone are Andy Sutton, Jarkku Ruutu and Brad Winchester and with them some snarl and truculence. In are Kurtis Foster, currently in Syracuse on a conditioning stint; Andrew Cogliano and Andrew Gordon who bring with them some can’t touch this dazzle.

Toni Lydman was cleared for contact on Monday and may play Friday night.  “We’ll make a decision during the morning skate on Friday if he will play that night or not,” Coach Carlyle said, “….if he has any soreness or swelling in the (shoulder) joint…. That will be the test for it.”

If coach can’t put a Lyd on Big Joe Thornton, look for Francois Beauchemin to draw the assignment. I’m probably wrong predicting Randy Carlyle but going with Beauch makes the most sense right now.

The other likely match ups, strength v. strength, look very interesting. Top line against top line is like rubbing sandpaper on a chalk board. One side is guaranteed to wear down. The more physical Ducks will have to swarm and force the Sharks to eat the puck and cough it up.

Martin Havlat isn’t expected to play leaving Couture & Clowe breaking in another new partner. The swift Masterton Line will be challenged to keep the puck away from the Sharks power duo. This match up could be a good test of RC’s new puck possession changes. Teh third line matchup poses a similar challenge for each side. It’s flash and dash of Cogliano and Gordon v. the bash and crash  of Handzus and Mitchell. Devante Smith-Pelley and perhaps Luca Sbisa will be out there to keep the big boys honest.

Ducks biggest edge could be between the pipes. Jonas Hiller is the likely starter going against either a banged up Antii Niemi or rookie backup Thomas Greiss. The rookie from Fussen, Germany has posted a rather unimpressive .906 SP and a 2.78 GAA in 20 games while backstopping one of the better teams in the game.

The teams meet up again Monday in San Jose. It’s the first of 3 games in 4 days for our Ducks who host the Blues on Sunday.  The Sharks, will host the Blues Saturday, also play 3 in four nights. The schedule favors San Jose as they have at least one day off before each game with division rival Ducks.

Our 1-1 Ducks need at least 4 points if they are to achieve their goal of getting off to a fast start. Anything less than a 3-2 record after five games doesn’t exactly qualify as a fast start.

Look for the RPG line to explode in one of these next three games. Those guys are simply too good to be kept off the score sheet for five consecutive games.

  1. czhokej says:

    I am looking forward to see DSP (I like his style of play) and other new faces. I certainly hope that our first line shows that they are worth the $$$$. This season, they are expected to be a major and decisive factor. We won’t win too many games if they don’t score.
    Another interesting thing will be RC’s new system – puck possession, aggressive defense (which requires forwards to cover the openings) and revamped fore-checking (Randy said that the Ducks were a strong forechecking team, and I do not agree with him). Yesterday, I watched the Kings – decent game for the beginning of the season, fast pace, a lot of hard work. from both teams. The Sharks used to play the similar style of hockey. We should win (if we show similar work ethics), I do not think that the Sharks are better than last year.

  2. bbdux93 says:

    I was at the game – it was a good one – and not just because we won.. I (as a no Xs & Os smarts fan) liked the speed and puck possession I saw.

    Sad that we lost Blake – now reported to be at least 3 months, but, this may make it possible for DS-P to stay longer than the predicted 9 games. When I watched him in pre-season I was concerned, now – not so much. DS-P can be physical and I like that.

  3. czhokej says:

    Speed was there, I liked it too, bb. DSP needs more experience, but I believe he is in. Macenauer also showed he is getting better, actually better than I expected (not just because his goal). Overall, I was pleased – forechecking was much better – Carlyle and his coaching staff worked on that, but the main improvement was our defensive system. It was obvious that forwards were instructed to cover the open areas (low slot and around the crease), when our defensemen were chasing the puck (I was waiting for this for 2 years). Our top line had some good moments, but overall did not impress me. Hiller was good, but I hope RC won’t use him too much. Too bad about Blake, he worked hard yesterday. Macenauer and Cogliano go to the net, where we can score. Getzlaf still doesn’t get it. Against my predictions we won the second game without contributions from our big guns.

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