Familiar faces from 2009 abound in the second playoff series between the Ducks and Sharks.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, forward Corey Perry and defenseman Francois Beauchemin return for the encore nine years later, and the Ducks will look to again eliminate the Sharks in the opening round.
San Jose stalwarts Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also played in that ’09 matchup. Those six are the only holdovers, and while not all of them produce like they once did, they’re still key players on the ice.
Ducks offense vs. Sharks defense
The Ducks are as deep as they come down the middle. How many teams can boast centermen like Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Adam Henrique?
Henrique was acquired in late November and gives the Ducks a third dangerous scoring line. Both he and linemate Ondrej Kase scored 20 goals for the Ducks, but it’s Rickard Rakell and Getzlaf who power the engine.
Rakell, the Ducks’ lone All-Star, can score from anywhere on the ice. His 34 goals led the Ducks, and with Getzlaf’s uncanny vision setting him up, they’re difficult to keep off the score sheet. Getzlaf averaged more than a point per game, and reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns will be tasked with shutting down the Ducks’ top line.
Burns’ size (6 feet 5, 230 pounds) and physicality are a nightmare for opposing forwards, but his offensive prowess might be even more impressive. Burns played forward at times and produced 67 points this season.
Ducks defense vs. Sharks offense
Cam Fowler remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. With the Ducks’ top defenseman’s left arm in a sling, it’s possible he’ll miss the entire series.
That leaves Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson to contend with Pavelski and Logan Couture, who both eclipsed the 60-point plateau. Thornton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late January and hasn’t suited up since. He’s been skating at practice but his status for the series remains uncertain.
The Ducks’ John Gibson, among the best goalies in the league, is on the mend after suffering an upper-body injury on April 1. He returned to practice this week, but it’s been Ryan Miller holding down the net. The former Vezina Trophy winner has been superb in relief, getting a shutout in the final game of the regular season.
Sharks goalie Martin Jones, on the other hand, has been unsteady and enters the playoffs having allowed five goals on 19 shots in his last game.
Fowler is the Ducks’ power-play quarterback, but even in his absence, any unit with Getzlaf on the ice is imposing. The unit has underachieved and ranks only 23rd, but the penalty kill, led by Kesler and Andrew Cogliano, finished fifth in the NHL.
The Sharks’ man-advantage team ranked 15th, and its penalty kill finished second in the league.
If the Sharks had won Saturday, they would be hosting Game 1 and Game 2 .
Instead, the Ducks will enjoy the comfort of home. They’re 14-1-2 in their last 17 games at Honda Center and went 26-10-5 at home. The Sharks had a 25-13-3 home record.