October 26, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) fights Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy (6) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
If the Anaheim Ducks have one glaring weakness it is their penchant for emotionality. Get under their skin and they’ll lose focus quicker than a two year old on Christmas morning.
The Stars knew this going into their playoff series last summer. Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt were all over Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, doing everything they could to get the two leaders to stop thinking about hockey. Because of that the Ducks forwards were thrown off their game and the Stars were able to take a couple games of that series.
The San Jose Sharks have the same effect on the Ducks, but seem to be able to do so just by showing up.
Something about the Sharks gets under the Ducks skin. San Jose does not agree with Anaheim’s leadership.
The Ducks-Sharks rivalry is one that’s been around for a while. Intrastate competitors that have met in the playoffs previously. The Sharks have been among the top teams in the NHL having gone to the playoffs every season since 2003-04 (with the exception of the lockout season of 2004-05). The Ducks have had their ups and downs, but have been atop the Pacific Division for the last few seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2006-07. This is all to say they are both highly competitive teams with a lot of pride.
With highly competitive teams comes high amounts of passion in their game, and passion can be brought out in both a positive or a negative way. Positive passion leads to confidence and momentum. Negative passion leads to frustration and distraction. The Sharks mostly bring about the negative side of the Ducks, especially this season.
So far this season the Ducks have played the Sharks four times. Three have resulted in losses for the Ducks and one was won in overtime. The sharks won those three because the Ducks got frustrated easily and lost their composure.
The one game the Ducks won was the game with the fewest penalty minutes for the Ducks (9 PIM). The games they lost, the Ducks averaged 43 PIM per game. Ducks fans will quickly tell you which of the four games the Ducks were at their best.
What is it about the Sharks that frustrate the Ducks so badly? Is this two competitive teams at the peak of their intensity? Is it coincidence that the Ducks have had their lesser games in conjunction with the Sharks greater efforts? Is the pride of the Ducks showing through too much, especially in the face of defeat?
Maybe it’s all of that. Like most things in life, it’s perhaps more complicated than it seems. The bottom line is that the Ducks have not been at their best when facing off against the Sharks.
Whether you blame bad bounces or bad referees, the Ducks have played at their worst when they are up against the Sharks, and it’s because of their penchant for losing their focus in the face of frustrations. It’s something that will have to be addressed especially if it shows it’s ugly face against potential playoff rivals.
The Ducks play the Sharks one more time this season (Jan. 29).