The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks entered their bye weeks spinning in opposite directions. Still, they do share one common trait — both teams hope to play considerably better the rest of the season.
They’ll get their first opportunity when the Ducks visit the Sharks on Monday night after both teams enjoyed their mandatory bye week followed by the All-Star weekend.
Anaheim won its final two games before the break for its first two-game winning streak since Oct. 29-Nov. 1.
The Sharks lost their final three games before the break by a combined score of 14-4, keeping them at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
“We’re not feeling great going into this break,” Sharks forward Timo Meier told reporters following a 4-1 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 18. “Coming back from the break, we have to be ready to give everything we’ve got and push for it.”
The Sharks continue to struggle with goaltending. They finished last in the NHL in save percentage (.889) last season and they’ve only slightly improved to 29th (.891) this season.
Scoring goals continues to be an elusive part of the game for the Ducks, who are 30th out of 31 NHL teams at 2.46 goals a game after finishing last in that category last season at 2.39.
Anaheim fired coach Randy Carlyle last February and general manager Bob Murray finished out the season behind the bench before handing the reigns to Dallas Eakins.
Eakins had brought success to the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego but is facing many of the same obstacles that plagued the Carlyle-led Ducks.
“Would we like to be higher in the standings? Absolutely,” Eakins told reporters before the bye. “Should our record be better than it is? I think it should be, too.”
He’s hoping the two-game winning streak before the break will provide a springboard.
“It leaves us with lots to think about,” he said. “Those things we did in those games, that compete level, that commitment to a man, I think that will be going through all of our heads during the break. … When we reconvene, we’ll be showing a lot of positive stuff (on video). Hey, this is what worked. Let’s remember what that standard was for those two games.”
Anaheim continues to get solid play from its most veteran player, forward Ryan Getzlaf.
The team captain had three assists in the final two games before the break to give him a team-leading 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists). He’s on pace to score the most goals since totaling 25 in the 2014-15 season.
Jakob Silfverberg also is having a strong season for Anaheim. He has 15 goals to co-lead on the team with Adam Henrique. Silfverberg was the lone All-Star selection for the Ducks, but he did not play while awaiting the birth of his child.
San Jose forward Tomas Hertl also has 15 goals. He participated in Saturday’s All-Star Game and scored five goals in two games within the game.
–Field Level Media