There are always quirks in the NHL schedule and there’s no better example than tonight’s game between the Sharks and Ducks in Anaheim. The Ducks haven’t played since last Saturday when they played the New York Rangers in Sweden. Likewise, the Sharks haven’t played since they destroyed the Phoenix Coyotes in their opening night game at the Shark Tank last Saturday. But as Ducks coach Randy Carlyle joked, “Schedules sometimes have oddities in them. And we never complain about our schedule.”
Both teams are obviously itching to get back onto the ice—and what better way than against a divisional rival to kick really kick start the season. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf knows that it’s always a battle when the Sharks come to town
“San Jose and us are put together in a similar fashions,” Getzlaf said. “We all play the same kind of game—a hard, fast game. Every time we play those guys, it’s a big rivalry for us and those things grow within a playoff series. We’ve had our fair share against them in the last five years.”
Both teams made the playoffs last season and even earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Carlyle admitted that they thought the Pacific was the toughest division in the NHL; they both know that points are at a premium every game. The Sharks need every point they can get as they look to earn home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The last two seasons the team has lost in the Western Conference final—last season they knew that home-ice advantage could have helped against the Canucks.
Likewise, the Ducks know that every point in the Pacific is crucial as they look for back-to-back playoff appearances. The two teams definitely have history. When the 8th seed Ducks beat the top seed Sharks in 2009, it took the rivalry to the next level. It may be the beginning of the year, but hockey players have long memories. There’s always potential for some fireworks.
Some people will remember that Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf dropped the gloves at the opening faceoff during that nasty series in 2009. When asked if he planned on dropping the gloves with Joe Thornton in the faceoff circle, Getzlaf laughed, “Not likely!”
So you’re saying there’s a chance…