(Photo credit: Elliot)
Two years ago, the San Jose Sharks made it to the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final where they ultimately lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Anaheim Ducks, on the other hand, haven't been there since winning it all in 2007.
Both teams are built to make a run this year, but have to go through each other first in what could be the most intense first-round series. Every game but one between the two teams needed overtime and a shootout to determine a winner, leading to the belief that fans may see some extra late-night hockey throughout the first round.
This is just the second time these two teams have met in the playoffs with the Ducks beating the Sharks in six games in 2009. Nine years later, it's time to see how these two contenders match up.
Season Series: Anaheim 1-1-2; San Jose 3-0-1
- Anaheim: Rickard Rakell (34-35-69), Ryan Getzlaf (11-50-61), Corey Perry (17-32-49)
- San Jose: Brent Burns (12-55-67), Joe Pavelski (22-44-66), Logan Couture (34-27-61)
Players to Watch:
- Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf may have played in just 56 games in the regular season, but he's just as dominant as ever. A near point-per-game player in the postseason, a healthy Getzlaf could mean trouble for not only the Sharks, but the rest of the teams in the West this spring.
- San Jose: Evander Kane was acquired by the Sharks from Buffalo at the trade deadline for what could become a first-round pick should he re-sign or San Jose wins the Stanley Cup. He's scored 14 points in 17 games since joining San Jose and is the biggest X-factor of the series.
Outlook: The Sharks may have won three of the four meetings this season, but that doesn't mean this won't be a close series. The Ducks are hopeful that goaltender John Gibson can shoulder the load, but if he can't, they have a proven veteran in Ryan Miller to backstop the team. With no Cam Fowler or Kevin Bieksa in the lineup, Anaheim will have to rely on Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour to play even move critical minutes to try to shut down the potent Sharks offense.
Speaking of the Sharks, even without Joe Thornton, this team is as dangerous as ever in the offensive zone. Brent Burns is the best offensive defenseman in the game and players like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski can make plays and light the lamp as good as anyone in this series. The Sharks have great depth up front while the Ducks have solid depth on the back end. That matchup alone will decide this series.
Pick: San Jose in six
|1||Thu, Apr 12||Sharks at Ducks||10:30 p.m.||USA, SN360, TVA|
|2||Sat, Apr 14||Sharks at Ducks||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN, SN360, TVA|
|3||Mon, Apr 16||Ducks at Sharks||10:30 p.m.||CNBC, SN1, TVA|
|4||Wed, Apr 18||Ducks at Sharks||10:30 p.m.||Golf, SN1, TVA|
|5*||Fri, Apr 20||Sharks at Ducks||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Sun, Apr 22||Ducks at Sharks||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Tue, Apr 24||Sharks at Ducks||TBD||TBD|