SHARKS (12-9-6…30 pts) at DUCKS (20-3-4…44pts)
When: Monday Night (3/18) 7pm PDT
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim,CA.
TV: CSN California (NoCal); Fox Sports Prime Ticket (SoCal); Fox Sports San Diego (San Diego County); Centre Ice (outside of California only)
Radio: Sharks Radio Network (98.5FM/102.1FM Bay Area, check http://sharks.nhl.com/index.html for your local station); Radio Free Duck (830AM in SoCal)
The San Jose Sharks find themselves at the obvious crossroads of a campaign that has gone south both figuratively and literally. The Sharks started this five game road trip watching the Los Angeles Kings make a huge statement in a 5-2 win at the Staples Center Saturday night. The Sharks had few highlights after being taken to the Staples Center woodshed by the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The loss resulted in Head Coach Todd McLellan trying his best not to lose his cool at least to the media in a post game interview. You could tell if you watched it he was seething. Coach McLellan did not feel any better about it the following day as the Sharks went through a morning skate a team drills at the Honda Center. McLellan probably would not have been this angry if someone had stolen his wallet. Meanwhile team teal comes into Monday’s contest against the arch rival Anaheim Ducks facing a team that has only won their last 11 home games and has only three regulation losses in 27 games.
The Anaheim Ducks have very quietly been one of the big success stories in this abriviated season. I say quietly because of all of the press the Chicago Blackhawks has drawn in their 24 game steak without a regulation loss. If I were the Anaheim Ducks, that would sit just fine with me and just lay in wait for the post season. Make no mistake, as much as it pains me to say this (and believe me, it really does), the Ducks have a very legitimate shot at their second cup title in six years. Should the Blackhawks fall, just as with Chicago I can not envision Anaheim losing to any team in the Eastern Conference (and that includes Pittsburgh and Boston). The good news for the Sharks tonight is that the Ducks will not have Corey Perry in the line up tonight as he is wrapping up a four game suspension for a flagrent penalty when the Ducks defeated the Minnesota Wild last week. However, the Ducks still have noted “Shark Killer” Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan, ex-Shark Daniel Winnik who’s playing like someone who’s career was revived.
The Sharks tonight will have their work cut out for them as the Ducks have only gotten that much better since the last time these two teams met. This is also the first of two meeting in Anaheim the Sharks will have with the Ducks in Anaheim in seven days. The final game of the Sharks five game road trip will also be in Anaehim next Monday. For more information on tonight’s match-up, here is NHL.com’s take on tonight’s festivities at the Honda Center…
By Brian Compton – NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor… **
Season series: This is the third of five meetings. The teams have split the first two games, with each team winning its game on home ice.
Big story: One team is running away with the Pacific Division, while the other is fighting simply to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks have lost only three times in regulation all season, while Todd McLellan’s Sharks are still trying to find consistency.
Sharks: McLellan was livid after his club’s most recent performance – a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Saturday. San Jose is 1-3-2 in its past six outings and has been outscored 16-7 in the past four.
Saturday’s loss meant the Sharks had to settle for a split of their home-and-home series with the Kings after they beat the defending Stanley Cup champs 4-3 on Thursday at HP Pavilion.
“How friggin’ disappointing is that?” McLellan said after Saturday’s loss. “We play against the Stanley Cup champions back-to-back. We’re lucky enough to win one in San Jose. We come here and you got to think they’d to be champing at the bit and be ready to go, and they’re going to push you, and what a great opportunity for our team to test themselves collectively, but also individually: Do I belong in the NHL? When I look across, can I outplay the guy that I line up against? We had a lot of passengers. So disappointing. So disappointing.”
Ducks: Anaheim returns to the Honda Center on Monday to begin a five-game homestand after going 2-0-1 on a three-game road trip. The only bump took place Saturday, when the Ducks suffered a 2-1 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues.
Anaheim has won its last 11 games at home.
“For the team just to play as good as they’ve been playing consistently is pretty amazing to me,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau told The Associated Press.
Who’s hot: Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each have four-game point streaks. … Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller stopped 63 of 65 on the first two games of the trip before making 19 saves in Saturday’s loss. He’s won six straight on home ice.
Injury report: Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss (back) is on injured reserve, while forward Martin Havlat (lower body) is day-to-day. … Ducks forward Brad Staubitz (facial laceration) is practicing while wearing a visor, but is still on injured reserve, along with forward Nick Bonino (lower body).
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