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Sharks get fowl
Playoff run starts Thursday in San Jose
4/12/09 - By Mike Lee -

The NHL regular season came to an end on Sunday and the last remaining playoffs seeds were determined. San Jose will square off against division rival Anaheim, in an all-California series, starting on Thursday, April 16th at HP Pavilion. The series then gets a brief respite, continuing on Sunday the 19th.

The series then shifts to Southern California, where the two teams will play games 3 & 4 on the 21st and 23rd of April. If the series goes longer then four games, San Jose will host games 5 on Saturday, Aril 25th and if necessary game 7 on Wednesday, April 29th. If a game 6 is required, Anaheim will play host on Monday, April 27th.

San Jose opened the regular season on October 9th with a 4-1 pasting of the Ducks, which was avenged by Anaheim 8 days later at the Arrowhead Pond in a 4-0 pasting by the Ducks.

The two teams didn't face each other again until early December, when Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 31 shots he faced in a 2-0 shutout.

San Jose would shutout the Ducks once again on March 15th, in a 1-0 duel that Nabokov won over Jonas Hiller. The two teams split a home-and-home series in early April to close out the season series which the Sharks took, winning 4 of 6 games between the two teams this season.

The last game ended with a flurry of penalties, as both teams took exception to play in front of Nabokov. The Ducks top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry played a big part in stirring up the pot in advance of the playoff series.

While San Jose fans will focus their attention on defenseman Chris Pronger, the Sharks will undoubtedly key on Perry and Getzlaf. Nabokov will get his chance to silence Perry, who he referred to as a "whiner" earlier this season.

Hopefully the Sharks skaters will keep Perry clear of their netminders, who were the recipients of several slashing and cross checks by the Ducks right wing. In the regular season finale between the two teams, Perry cross checked Brian Boucher in the back after Getzlaf was pummeled in the crease.

The Ducks will be facing Travis Moen, a former left wing they sent north in a trade deadline deal along with defenseman Kent Huskins. Huskins has yet to make an appearance for San Jose, but he close to returning. San Jose sent prospects and a draft pick to Anaheim, so they don't have to face any scored former players.

Moen was acquired to add a little toughness to the equation, something the Sharks have lacked the past two seasons in the playoffs. Their hands will certainly be full starting Thursday, as Anaheim will undoubtedly resort to the rough stuff.

The Sharks earned their draw with St Louis slipping past the Ducks for the 7th seed with a 1-0 win over Colorado on Sunday afternoon.

They hope to have most of the walking wounded ready for the NHL's second season. Of the dozen or so players injured this season, only Torrey Mitchell appears to be unfit to make a playoff appearance. Mitchell broke his leg in training camp, and suffered a setback during a conditioning assignment to Worcester, the Sharks top development affiliate.

The Sharks are also eager to get the playoff monkey off their back after disappointing showings the last three seasons. This will mark head coach Todd McLellan's first stint as the top man behind the bench during an NHL playoff series.


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