So it’s almost time, Sharks fans: Game one of the playoffs is tomorrow. I know we're all chomping at the bit for the puck to drop.
I’m going to go on record with the prediction that San Jose will take the series in five games. I know that's kind of a bold statement, but let me explain.
1. The Sharks have a lot more secondary scoring than the Ducks. The third and fourth lines have been adding a few goals in the last five games and have had a lot of jump.
With the prospect of Tory Mitchell coming back and more players getting healthy, I think they can only get stronger. The Sharks also have a lot of help from the blue line. Four defensemen are having 30-plus assists seasons, and let’s not forget about their scoring touch as well. Cheechoo and Ehrhoff led the Sharks with four points in five games against the Ducks this year. Danny B had four points in six games.
2. Just as important is the fact that the Sharks really seem to get over the “stage fright” of battling the Ducks.
Over the last two seasons, you really have the feeling that San Jose looks at this team as any other team, meaning they don’t give the Duck more respect than they deserve.
I think that’s a HUGE advantage in the Sharks favor. Mentally, I think the Sharks will be stronger and more balanced.
3. The third reason is two words: Evgeni Nabokov. Jonas Hiller is a great young talent and proven he’s strong in net, but does he have what it takes to win a big series like this in the playoffs?? I think the answer will be no.
Nabokov has been here before; he’s known the adversity and is focused on being the best he can be. Because Nabokov is a part of a team that might feel a little “snake bitten,” and because he's been treating the whole season as preparation for the playoffs gives him the mental edge.
J.S. Giguere has been awful this season, and Hiller will get the nod to start on Thursday. Count on it. But at the end of the day, Hiller needs to learn more. Nabokov is the man who will get it done.
I think this round is going to be over before we all expect, and the Sharks will send the “quack attack” home packing for next season. I can’t wait for tomorrow night!! I will have my rally towel in hand, my JR jersey on, and the buddies over for one loud and rowdy night!!
Remember: This is Sharks territory, baby!!!