The San Jose Sharks, fresh off of winning the first Presidents Trophy in team history, host the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Todd McLellan left the Red Wings after winning the Stanley Cup as an assistant, and put his imprint on the Sharks right away. Dubbed "Detroit West", San Jose dominated using a puck-possession style with a "fire at will" mentality from the blueline. Will this formula solve the problem of previous playoff failures?
The Ducks, meanwhile, struggled at various points of the season before kicking it into gear over the final month to beat out Minnesota and Nashville for the final playoff spot.
Frankly, I don't think there's any significant area where you can claim Anaheim has an advantage over San Jose. Perhaps their best hope is to keep the game at 5-on-5 and avoid the penalty box, but come on, this is Anaheim we're talking about. They've been 1st or 2nd in the NHL in Penalty Minutes in each of the last three seasons.
|2008 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere||46||2458||19||18||6||3||127||3.10||1274||1147||.900||2|
|2008 - Jonas Hiller||46||2486||23||15||1||6||99||2.39||1217||1118||.919||4|
|2008 - Evgeni Nabokov||62||3686||41||12||8||0||150||2.44||1663||1513||.910||7|
No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:
|Anaheim||Penalties Drawn||San Jose||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Corey Perry||52||48||+4||Joe Thornton||45||26||+19|
|Ryan Getzlaf||36||50||-14||Devin Setoguchi||37||11||+26|
|George Parros||33||33||0||Ryan Clowe||34||18||+16|
|Bobby Ryan||27||15||+12||Joe Pavelski||33||19||+14|
|Teemu Selanne||17||13||+4||Dan Boyle||26||25||+1|
|Todd Marchant||17||16||+1||Travis Moen||26||27||-1|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Ryan Getzlaf||36||50||-14||Rob Blake||10||42||-32|
|Corey Perry||52||48||+4||Jody Shelley||25||36||-11|
|Chris Pronger||10||39||-29||Christian Ehrhoff||21||30||-9|
|George Parros||33||33||0||Brad Staubitz||24||28||-4|
|Scott Niedermayer||15||30||-15||Travis Moen||26||27||-1|
|Rob Niedermayer||4||21||-17||Joe Thornton||45||26||+19|
Yes, Rob Blake is right there down at the bottom of the Penalty Plus/Minus standings, but he's outweighed by the positive numbers of his mates up front. San Jose had the 4th-most power plays in the NHL this year, while Anaheim was ranked 28th. Similarly, Anaheim had the 4th-most penalty kills, while San Jose ranked 26th.
The Ducks may put up a fight, but I can't see them pulling off the upset. I like the San Jose Sharks in this one.