|Angus' Playoff Pool Primer - Part 1 of 2|
Western Conference Quarterfinals: (1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks
Look for this to be the most physical of the eight quarterfinal match-ups. The Sharks have a giant chip on their shoulder after numerous playoff disappointments, and the Ducks still boast a lineup similar to the one that captured the 2007 Stanley Cup. However, their goaltending is a bit suspect, and JS Giguere has been overtaken as the starter by Jonas Hiller. More to come there.
If there is one guarantee about this series, it is that both Sharks players and fans will want to get at Corey Perry by the end of it. He plays over the edge all the time, and never backs up what he starts. Look for him to be a big factor in this series.
Fantasy-wise, the Ducks are a very to-heavy team. After the top line of Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Getzlaf, they are thin up front. Teemu Selanne has lost a step and Andrew Ebbett has only really played half a season in the league. The Ducks will need their big guns to produce to have any shot in this series.
On the other side, the Sharks boast depth at both forward and defense. Look for Dan Boyle to be a huge impact player for the Sharks. He skates very well and eats up a ton of minutes. He will be the key to their dangerous power-play, which will have lots of opportunity against the undisciplined Ducks.
Forwards: San Jose. Top end is relatively even (the Ducks top line may even be better), but the Sharks are bigger, faster, more experienced, and more skilled. Big edge.
Defense: Anaheim. Cannot discount Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, even if both have not played up to standard this season. James Wisniewski is a heart-and-soul player and was a very underrated pick up by the Ducks at the deadline.
Goaltending: San Jose. Big edge here. Hiller has struggled lately and he is prone to letting in soft goals. Giguere has been a mess all season. Nabokov is one of the most consistent elite goaltenders in the league, and he thrives in the post-season.
Intangibles: San Jose. The Sharks have something to prove once again.
Match-up to Watch For:
Anaheim’s top unit against whatever shutdown unit the Sharks put together. If the Ducks top line is held off the score sheet, they have absolutely no chance in this series.
San Jose outclasses the Ducks in a short - but physical - series. Sharks in four.