SAN JOSE -– The Sharks are well aware of their maddening habit to play down to their competition, suffering some embarrassing losses in the process.
That shouldn’t be a concern on Saturday against the 14-5-5 Ducks, who are once again on top of the Pacific Division.
In fact, the Sharks (10-10-4) seem to be welcoming a visit from their rivals, regardless of records. After all, San Jose skated to a 4-1 win at Honda Center on Oct. 26, beginning a stretch of recording seven of a possible eight points.
That victory also ended a four-game losing streak. Coincidentally, the Sharks have lost four games (0-2-2) headed into Saturday’s matchup, as well.
“I’m happy that we’re playing Anaheim tomorrow. I think they bring the best out in us,” Tommy Wingels said. “It will be a big test for us as a team if we can bring the effort and the intensity and the game we want. There’s not a better time to do it than against these guys.”
Matt Nieto said: “When we play better teams, we play better. We have to learn how to play against teams that we should be beating, but I think tomorrow could be a huge turnaround for our team. I know it would be great to get a win against those guys again.”
Not only were the two points important in that first meeting, the game featured a combined 165 penalty minutes. For at least a little while, the Sharks seemed to gain some energy from the win, following it up with victories over the Avalanche and Islanders sandwiched around a shootout loss in Minnesota.
Their team play fell off the map during a 2-5-0 road trip, and that’s been followed up by three straight losses at home. Another passionate performance against the Ducks would we welcomed, as the concern level around the club – which has already made some roster moves –- is increasing.
John Scott has played just once following the last Ducks game, including a two-game suspension for coming off of the bench to engage Tim Jackman in a fight. He’s hopeful that another match with Anaheim will act as a springboard for a second time.
“We’ve been playing pretty poor the last month, I would say. Not really our normal game,” Scott said. “Hopefully, bringing in a good rival like this will get the blood flowing again, get us going, and spark a little run.”
Sheppard said: “We had a very good game against them last time. We really came together. I think it’s going to add some extra fire, for sure.”
The Sharks will have held two practices and a morning skate since Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Calgary. There’s no reason their tanks shouldn't be filled to the brim, while the Ducks will be playing their second straight game after a 4-1 home loss to the Blackhawks on Friday.
“We’ve had two good days of work,” Todd McLellan said. “That lack of practice time isn’t an excuse for our hockey club. We’ve had good days of practice, we’ve been home for awhile – we should be rested and ready to go.”
Wingels said: “If we’re not ready to go tomorrow, we’ll struggle.”