Why Are The Anaheim Ducks Beating The San Jose Sharks?
Most analysts will tell you that it is because of the outstanding goaltending of Jonas Hiller. I do not wish to take anything away from the talented 27-year-old Swiss netminder, but that isn't the reason.
Hiller's Game One shutout (in his first playoff game), however, highlights just what that reason is: mental fortitude. The Ducks have it right now, and the Sharks do not.
After all, there is a lot of pressure after winning the President's Cup. Winning that little trinket does things to the minds of players not wearing a Red Wings jersey.
I think the Sharks are one good sports psychologist away from winning a championship. Especially for their stars, who just can't ever get it together in the playoffs. Sure they were walking around saying it was their year, but you still have to go out there and prove it.
When the Ducks first launched the defensive tandem of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger in 2007, everyone was saying the Ducks were destined to win the Cup (which they did).
However, Coach Randy Carlyle did a good job of getting his player's heads out of the clouds and back down to ice-level. It's your year when you hoist the Cup, anything before that is just the wild fantasies of sports writers, bloggers, and fans.
To the Ducks' credit, they were never intimidated by San Jose (trace this back to the last two games of the regular season between these two), and they have been playing like they have nothing to lose, which is when they are at their most dangerous.
I am inclined to think Anaheim will win this series. That is not to say San Jose can't beat the Ducks four out of the next five games—they are capable of that physically.
It is the mental game that the Sharks are losing; a problem that can't be fixed by firing their coach, I'm afraid.
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