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Quiet Night
Sharks prepare for Round 2
4/26/16 - By Ken Smyth -

No hockey tonight so one can think about things. The LA Kings are gone in five games, and between the Sharks and the St. Louis Blues, "exorcising their demons" easily wins the Over-used Metaphor In A Hockey Blog competition for the week. Sharks fans can live with that, we're tired of hearing that "c" word. About 90% of the smart people pecked either the Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks to represent the Western Conference in the Finals and have some serious splaining to do. Somebody new will go in a few weeks, it might as well be us. But that's getting ahead of things.

The Sharks' victory came on the eve of St. George's Day, and as the dragon-slaying pros remind us, when one is down there is another to deal with very soon. You can argue whether the Sharks match up better against the Nashville Predators or the Anaheim Ducks. I'd consider it a wash considering that all three teams were wildly inconsistent over the season.

Both the Ducks and the Preds have good defense, better depth than the Kings, and questions in goal. The fun stat to argue about: the Ducks weirdly led the league in penalties per game, penalty-kill percentage and power-play percentage during the regular season. This should make for some fun times with the officiating if they win on Wednesday night.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne of the Predators carries a lifetime 10-5-4 record against the Sharks, but his overall performance this season was very average with a 0.908 save percentage. How much of that is due to Nashville's new coach, Peter Laviolette, incorporating a less defensive system and how much to Pekka Rinne getting older?

Anaheim has Frederik Andersen and John Gibson to choose from in net. If coach Bruce Boudreau is true to his baser instincts, given any reason he'll dump one and start the other. Maybe even make the change during the National Anthem. Along with the irritatingly affected way Dan Rusanowsky keeps saying "Pek-ka REEN-yay" whenever he gives a Nashville score this is a reason to hope that Anaheim is the Sharks' opponent. Then again, if Rinne is beatable let's beat him.

This will be a tough series for the Sharks. Both teams are physical and they haven't beaten each other up nearly enough in the first round. Either way, the Sharks are learning they can win with Peter DeBoer's system. Sharks in seven.


Contact Ken at at kensmyth@letsgosharks.com


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