The Sharks may have won the President’s Trophy for the best record in the NHL this season, but they’re the only team without a goal in the playoffs this season (of the 16 teams playing, of course). Naturally, a lot of those predicting that the Sharks would take down the Ducks easily look to Hiller and say he has no playoff experience in the NHL. This is true, but many goalies have had pretty great runs their first time in the NHL playoffs. There’s no reason to believe that one of the most consistent goalies in the playoffs can’t come through for his team.
Though I didn’t talk to Randy Carlyle after the game (I’m in southern California still), I’m sure he said one of his typical phrases about the game and commented on how he wants to decrease the penalties the Ducks take, but that he’s not going to tear apart a win. The Ducks played well. The Sharks may have outshot the Ducks, but those who watched the game know that they didn’t have much traffic in front of the net and for the most part made Hiller’s job pretty easy (Al Balderas, staff writer for the OC Register mentioned this in his Sharks made it all too easy for Hiller blog).
Clearly, those who thought the Sharks would easily dispense of the Ducks and move on to their next opponent are rethinking their position. The Ducks shut the Sharks out at home in the first game of the playoffs, which is definitely not a good sign for the Sharks. San Jose was only shut out twice during the regular season (once by Anaheim, who won 4-0 on October 17th and once by Detroit in December), but they had not been shut out at home since December 18, 2007 (against Anaheim – sensing a trend?). To be shut out at home by the team with the fewest points out of all those in the playoffs (if they were in the eastern conference, they’d be in 10th place) had to be difficult for the Sharks.
It’s a long series and obviously the Sharks will come back playing a lot harder than they have in most of their games in April so far. They’re not going to make the series easy for the Ducks to win, but I’m sure the Ducks and all their fans realize this fact. I still think what I predicted before the playoffs started, though.