Now the Anaheim Ducks are in some real trouble.
Dropping Game 1 at home was bad, but going down 2-0 in the series and traveling up to Silicon Valley for the next two games puts the Ducks in an unenviable predicament against the San Jose Sharks.
Game 2 Saturday night at Honda Center was an improvement over Game 1’s 3-0 loss, but the Ducks were still outplayed for too many key stretches and fell short, 3-2. Here are three takeaways from this one.
Sharks’ Upfront Depth Prevailing
In Game 1, Evander Kane stepped up with two goals for the Sharks. In Game 2, a different cast of characters found the back of the net, with forwards Marcus Sorensen, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl all tallying goals for San Jose.
The Sharks had nine forwards score at least 10 goals in the regular season, and that doesn’t include Kane, who had nine in 17 games for San Jose after coming over from the Buffalo Sabres, and 29 total for the season. Two of those nine forwards lit the lamp Saturday night, while Sorensen, who only had five goals in 32 games, scored the Sharks’ first goal of the game after Jakob Silfverberg had gotten Anaheim on the board just 40 seconds into the contest.
San Jose’s array of weapons, especially up front, has presented problems for the Ducks. Meanwhile, outside of Silfverberg’s opening tally, Anaheim has not seen a goal from a forward in either of the first two games of the series. The Ducks’ other goal was a second-period power-play marker from defenseman Hampus Lindholm that cut San Jose’s 3-1 lead to 3-2. That would be the final goal of the game.
Rickard Rakell has not tallied a point. Ryan Getzlaf had an assist on the Lindholm goal but has not had anything else. Adam Henrique, Ondrej Kase, Corey Perry (more on him later), and Andrew Cogliano have all been kept off the scoresheet as well. Sure, two games represent a small sample size, but, for better or for worse, the playoffs are a small sample size. The Ducks are two losses away from elimination, so they need their scorers up front to start producing in NorCal.
While the Ducks were able to muster more of an offensive attack than their anemic Game 1 showing, the Sharks’ depth allowed them to keep attacking Anaheim in waves. John Gibson, despite letting in a stoppable backhand from Hertl (with all due respect to Hertl’s moves that culminated in the goal), made numerous high-difficulty saves when the Ducks were down 3-2, affording them a realistic opportunity until the final horn sounded.
Montour’s Struggles Spell Bad News for Ducks
Going into the series, one key was for defensemen like Brandon Montour to elevate their play in the absence of Cam Fowler.
Not only has that not happened adequately enough, but Montour had an especially nightmarish Game 2. His (non-)highlight reel from Saturday’s game included:
- Taking a first-period hooking penalty that led to Couture’s power-play goal that put the Sharks in front for good
- Failing to maintain a proper gap and then getting undressed by Hertl before the latter scored to extend San Jose’s lead
- A defensive-zone giveaway in the third period the led to a prime scoring opportunity for the Sharks’ Eric Fehr
- Missing the net badly on a 2-on-1 rush in the third period after he elected to shoot instead of getting the puck to his team’s top scorer (Rakell) when it seemed as though a passing lane was available
Montour also took a spill in the third period that, while inconsequential, summed up his night pretty well.
Montour down, woof it hasn’t been his night pic.twitter.com/mNgcbONx0f
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 15, 2018
The Ducks are already in a difficult position with Fowler out of the lineup, but if Montour is going to struggle this badly, then they have very little shot at making this is a series.
Perry Could Miss Some Time
Given the Ducks’ propensity for physicality and the two teams’ status as intrastate and division rivals, high intensity and heavy hitting were to be expected and have indeed been abundant over the first two games.
Perry, however, crossed the line late in Game 2. With the Ducks down by a goal with under four minutes to go in the final frame, Perry went out of his way to charge into an unsuspecting player in Melker Karlsson, earning a two-minute interference penalty that hindered his team’s chances late. Once again, a lack of discipline hurt the Ducks. Perhaps, too, this particular instance will result in some supplemental discipline from the league.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 15, 2018
The NHL has thankfully shown somewhat of a spine this postseason in doling out suspensions to the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty (one game) and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri (three games) for illegal hits they each committed. If they keep up that standard, Perry should be getting at least a one-game suspension, and probably more.
Whether or not you want to make the argument that Perry caught Karlsson’s shoulder before the head contact, the fact that he came charging at Karlsson in such aggressive, even predatory, fashion, demands a crackdown from the league. It would be an unfortunate situation for the Ducks to be without one of their top players at this desperate time, but Perry will have brought that upon himself and his team.