San Jose Sharks (38-24-2, t-6th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (37-17-11, 3rd in west)
Well, for the second time this week, the Sharks catch the Ducks on the favorable side of back-to-back games, this time with Billy Guerin on board. But rather than dwell on the Sharks for this (hasty) GDP, I did want to take a brief look at the Ducks and their miserable OT/SO experience, mostly in reaction to last night's OTL to the Kings. This is, of course, almost completely irrelevant to tonight’s game, as the Sharks hardly ever gets past 60 minutes (only 4 OTs through 64 games), but it’s all I’ve got for today.
Last year, the Ducks went 6-12 in the extra session (3-5 in OT, 3-7 in SO), and this year looks to be eerily similar (3-4 in OT, 3-7 in SO). Essentially, the Ducks are winning barely more than a third of OT games they participate in, not a stellar statistic by any means.
- Similar to Matt at BoA, I don’t particularly begrudge teams for extra-session success, but I’m not sure how well that translates to postseason success. For one, there will be no 4-on-4 OT nor a shootout come postseason, so the ability (or inability) to succeed in these mini-game scenarios probably doesn’t come into play past April 8. Secondly, as I note in Matt’s comments, I’m not sure people generally understand the concept of the "extra point"—it is NOT losing in OT/SO that generates the extra point, but rather in winning the extra session that a team has its point total inflated. To quote myself: "Generally speaking, I am more afraid of teams who make the playoffs despite their OT records than the teams who make the playoffs because of their OT records."
- That said, the Ducks are definitely leaving points on the table, especially as it relates to OT killers like Dallas, Vancouver, and Minnesota. Then again, if we were a .500 OT team, that would mean only about 5 extra standings points over nearly 2 seasons—not a huge amount to fret over. But if you asked me about whether Anaheim has a good strategy going into OT or not, that's an easy "no", so why not try a new balls-to-the-wall approach? It’s tough to imagine a scenario where our OT record would get any worse.
- And my main point? I don’t even think 4-on-4 OT is exciting any more, especially as it pertains to Anaheim. Consider this: the Ducks have played almost 67 minutes of OT this season. In the 60 minutes of 4-on-4 play, there have been 2 goals generated (2 goals per hour). In the 7 minutes of 4-on-3 power play, there have been 5 goals generated (44 goals per hour). In fact, 5 out of 6 penalties called in Anaheim’s extra sessions have led directly to game-winning power play goals, on average scored just 32 seconds into the infraction. Not to get all Tom Benjamin on you, but this is personally a pretty alarming trend—nothing excites me less than to see this sport become nothing but a PP contest, wherein teams don’t focus on even-strength scoring, but rather just play passively until the point when a man-advantage situation occurs. Still, the lesson is pretty clear: stay out of the fucking box in OT (I’m looking at you, Scotty), it nearly always costs you the "game".
- Probably the biggest irony of it all? I don’t quite understand how J.S. Giguere, the greatest playoff-overtime goalie in NHL history (zero goals against on 95 shots in 168:27 of extra play), doesn’t translate well at all to regular-season-overtime success. I guess he’s just seasonally "clutch".
Prediction: Ducks 3, Sharks 1. Pahlsson shocks us all by not scoring, but Selanne, Getzlaf, and Pronger pick up the slack.