The city of Anaheim, Calif. is now again at the center of attention regarding the best team in their sport once again reaching the playoffs. Except now, it is the Anaheim Ducks who aren't the favorite against the San Jose Sharks, like the Angels were against Boston in the 2008 MLB playoffs.
Being the team with the most wins doesn't guarantee success in the playoffs. The Ducks are 10-3 in their last 13 games, including a very competitive home series split earlier this month.
The Angels cruised through the 2008 season never being really challenged by any team from the American League West. With no team “pushing” them, they stumbled when they faced the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. The San Jose Sharks have basically cruised through the 2008-2009 NHL season with no team from their division giving them any completion for the division lead.
Now the Sharks must enter the playoffs with a “clean slate.” What happened in the regular season is now wiped from the books. Based on the teams' play this season against each other, this should be a very physical game. Unfortunately for the Sharks, that’s exactly what the Ducks strengths are, but on the other hand, I don’t expect the Sharks to step back and not do anything about it.
It’s been said in many sports that it’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish. The San Jose Sharks have come down from their early season performance and now are playing “flat line,” whereas the Anaheim Ducks are playing the best hockey they have played this NHL season. Just after the trade deadline, the Ducks starting peaking and now go into the first round against a team that wasn’t challenged.
The San Jose Sharks may be the favored team by the majority of the NHL fans, but I’ve personally got to go with the “underdog” on a hot streak. Even if the Ducks can’t pull off the underdog role, at least I’ve still got a team from California to root for in the next round.
Ducks in six.
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