Anaheim-San Jose: Sharks Continue Their Domination Over the Ducks

SKCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 23:  Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on December 23, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ring Ring

Anaheim speaking...

Hi, this is San Jose calling, we just wanted to let you know—we have your number.

Since the Ducks handed the Sharks playoff defeat last April, San Jose has obliterated Anaheim in the first four meetings this season.

The Sharks have outscored the Ducks 16-6.

Dominating play by the Sharks all around has kept the Ducks off the scoresheet and down in the Western Conference standings.

The usual match-up between Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf has been completely one-sided this season.  In the division match-up, Thornton has 11 points (4-7-11), Patrick Marleau has seven points (4-3-7), and Dany Heatly has seven points (2-5-7).  That line has combined for more than half of the goals scored against Anaheim this season.

Meanwhile, the Ducks top line of Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan have two goals in the four games combined.

While it's obvious that San Jose is winning the offensive battle, it's the defensive battle that is really hurting the Ducks.  While this is true of any opponent the Ducks have faced this season, it seems that the Sharks have exploited every possible hole in the Ducks very weak defense.

While the Ducks continually chase both the Sharks and the puck all over the ice, San Jose always makes the most of their opportunities.  They get to lose pucks quicker, they clear the zone better, and they pass the puck smoother. Meanwhile, Anaheim plays dump and chase, rarely recovering the puck when they battle along the boards.

Fans can forget that physical domination from the Ducks that they once knew.  San Jose is a stronger more physical team than many will remember, and they clearly have no problem handing the Ducks a taste of their own medicine.

With two games remaining in this Pacific Division battle, the Ducks will need to find a way to get behind the defensive wall the Sharks have built in front of their already stellar netminder, Evgeni Nabokov.  Anaheim will have to rely on their top offensive line to bust through that wall if they want to take any points from San Jose this season.

Something to ponder...

Getzlaf left the game during the second period because of a leg laceration.  While initial reports indicate that he is not seriously injured and will likely be listed day-to-day, this brings up the injury report.

Are the Ducks' struggles a direct cause and effect from their constant injury issues?

Since Ryan Carter's departure from the line-up in early November, the Ducks have been battling through the loss of his centermen duties as well as Joffrey Lupul (back), Teemu Selanne (hand), and Kyle Calder (eye) who recently returned to the line-up.

Do you think that if the Ducks were able to stay healthy through the first three moths of the season, they would be in a better position in the standings?

My overwhelming feeling to this question is YES.

While Carter isn't a pivotal player in terms of offense, his defensive duties and penalty killing time was a huge benefit to the Ducks.  As for both Lupul and Selanne, having them both healthy for a longer stretch of time would mean a better chance for the team to grow together in terms of chemistry as well as to help create defined scoring lines.  Since these players have been out for such long periods of time, it's become essential for coach Randy Carlyle to play juggle with his top two lines on a nightly basis.

The question remains...

Will the return of those players make a positive impact?  Or will it cause more confusion in the line-up?

While the Ducks hope to see all three men join in the line up in the coming weeks, they will need more from the healthy names on their roster if they plan on moving up in the standings.

This is the halfway point of the season; there is no time like the present to right this ship.