Sharks Looking To Get Physical With Rival Ducks
SAN JOSE — How do you inspire your hockey team to play with more physicality?
Bring in a detested division rival.
The last time the San Jose Sharks hooked up with the Anaheim Ducks (at Honda Center on Oct. 26), five fights broke out and a combined total of 165 penalty minutes were dished out by the officials. The Sharks walked out of the divisional battle royal with two points, momentum and confidence.
After opening a six-game homestand with a disappointing 0-1-2 record, the Sharks could use another boost from their Pacific Division rivals at SAP Center tonight.
“Any time a team comes at you physically, for a guy like me, I love it,” forward Andrew Desjardins said. “It means you’ve just got to step up that part of the game.”
The Sharks are currently ranked 20th in hits per game (20.6), according to Sporting Charts, and they’ll need to get in the habit of throwing the body more with nine division games looming on the schedule over the next five weeks.
Mike Brown could return to the lineup tonight, which would guarantee an increase in the Sharks physical energy. Brown collected the second-most penalty minutes (75) on the Sharks last year and he’d surely give the team a physical presence that’s been lacking in recent weeks.
“I know my role,” Brown said. “Putting me back in the lineup to play my style of [game] and that’s hit, crash the net, create some energy, block shots and do whatever I can to get the boys fired up.”
When the teams met in October, the Ducks fired the Sharks up by picking fights with several players who aren’t entirely accustomed to dropping the gloves. Ryan Getzlaf went after rookie Mirco Mueller, enforcer Tim Jackman tried to pick a fight with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Corey Perry dropped the gloves with Tommy Wingels.
Consequently, John Scott received a two-game suspension for leaving the bench on a legal line change during the game to start an altercation with Jackman after he roughed up Vlasic.
Scott will return to the Sharks lineup for tonight’s rematch, but he isn’t sure whether tensions will spill over to the Shark Tank.
“You kind of build it up too much and you get there and it’s kind of a let down,” Scott said. “It’s happened to me a few times where I’ve built something up and nothing happens, so I’ve kind of learned every game is a new game and if something happens it happens.”
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau expressed similar thoughts.
“I expect every time that we play L.A. and San Jose that it’s going to be, not necessarily a physical game, but an intense game,” he said. “Sometimes it boils over, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it boils over just into a fast-hard game. I think both teams want and need the points more than they want and need to fight.”
Rookie Barclay Goodrow, who wasn’t in the lineup on Oct.26, said he’s aware that the Ducks might try to get under his skin just as they tested Mueller a month ago.
“I’m always ready for that,” Goodrow said, adding: “I think I had six fights over my OHL career, so I’m not unfamiliar. I wouldn’t consider myself a tough guy by any means, but if it comes down to it, I’ll do it to stick up for a teammate.”
Brenden Dillon, who will be making his Sharks-Ducks debut, said he’s looking forward to experiencing the intensity of the interstate rivalry.
“I heard there were a couple of punches thrown and a couple of fights in that game,” Dillon said, referring to the teams’ last meeting. “For me, I just want to help out where I can. Physicality, I don’t mind playing that style of game.”
But Dillon said the Sharks will need to keep their emotions in check and play a focused hockey game.
“It’s a long season.You play these guys a lot, so you want to make sure that you have a short memory,” he said. “But at the same time, these are your teammates. These are the guys you stick up for. These are your brothers.”
Whatever happens, Desjardins said the game presents an opportunity for the Sharks to climb out of a slump and turn the momentum around.
“It’s going to take 60 minutes and all hands on deck,” he said. “When you play a team where you have to back each other up, everybody comes together.”