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West Coast hockey has a weird habit of being some of the most compelling early-postseason hockey before the teams that advance fizzle out against the Blackhawks or Predators or whoever else is hot that year. With that being said, this California series is no different in terms of being an interesting first-round matchup. You’ll get a lot of different opinions about who will win this series, but whether it’s the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks, both are primed to make a deep run.

With that being said, they’re both primed in very different ways. While the Ducks are still riding on homegrown talent, the Sharks did something that caught a lot of people off-guard, trading a conditional first rounder, a prospect and a fourth-rounder for forward Evander Kane. It was the move of a team that felt it was a piece away. Now the Sharks need to prove it.

The Sharks went 3-1 against the Ducks in the regular season, but they ended the year on a sour note, losing five of their last six. They’ll try to rebound for the postseason against a scorching hot Anaheim team that ended the season winning five straight.

How to watch

TV: NBCSN, CNBC, USA, SN360, Golf Channel, NBCSCA, TVAS, PRIME
Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App

(All times ET)

  • Game 1, Thursday, April 12:  Sharks 3, Ducks 0
  • Game 2, Saturday, April 14:  Sharks 3, Ducks 2 
  • Game 3, Monday, April 16: Ducks at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. — CNBC, SN1, TVAS, NBCSA, PRIME
  • Game 4, Wednesday, April 18: Ducks at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. — GOLF, SN1, TVAS, NBCSA, PRIME
  • *Game 5, Friday, April 20: Sharks at Ducks, TBD  
  • *Game 6, Sunday, April 22: Ducks at Sharks, TBD
  • *Game 7, Tuesday, April 24: Sharks at Ducks, TBD 

NHL Playoffs odds

Here’s a look at each team’s projected odds to advance via SportsLine, not to mention their odds to win not only their conference, but also the Stanley Cup.    

Matchup breakdown

OFFENSE

Evander Kane hasn’t exactly been the production machine that the Sharks have been hoping for, but he’s shown flashes. Four of his nine goals with the Sharks came in one game. Their leading point-scorer for the season was defenseman Brent Burns, while Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture have, as usual, been fantastic facilitators, and Couture led the team in goals. The Ducks, meanwhile, have a solid first line featuring Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. The latter had an impressive 34 goals this year. Corey Perry’s days of 30-40 goals are gone, but a welcome emergence for Ondrej Case picked up some of the slack for the Ducks.

EDGE: Sharks

evander-kane.jpg

With the addition of Kane, the Sharks could make a Cup run. 
USATSI

DEFENSE

You can bet that the blue line is where this series will be won. For the Ducks, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson have been amazing this year, whereas Brandon Montour and Francois Beauchemin have been more than capable on the second line. The Sharks, meanwhile, have two of their best players in terms of defensive point shares on the front line, with the inimitable Brent Burns and Paul Martin on the blue line and Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun waiting in the wings. Burns’ scoring is one of the strongest parts of his game, while Vlasic and Braun serve as your more traditional “true defensemen.”

EDGE: Draw

GOALTENDING

Part of this will come down to if John Gibson will be ready in time for the series to start, but with how Ryan Miller is playing it may not even matter. The Ducks are hoping that they won’t need to tap Miller again, but if they do, how he played down the stretch definitely did (and should) inspire confidence, particularly after a 31-save shutout to close out the season against Arizona. Gibson, however, is one of the best young goalies in the league, and his absence (and .926 save percentage) would be missed. For the Sharks, Martin Jones has been up and down this year, but he’s been mostly solid. He struggled down the stretch, posting a save percentage of .874 over his last five, but he has the capacity to bounce back.

EDGE: Ducks

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Ducks and Sharks are both pretty middle-of-the-road in regards to scoring with man advantages, with the Ducks scoring 38 goals on 214 attempts and the Sharks posting 53 goals on 257 attempts. The Ducks were 23rd in the league in conversion rate at 17.8 percent, whereas the Sharks were 16th at 20.6 percent, leaving them marginally better. On the kill, however, the Sharks were second in the league, allowing 34 goals on 224 penalties, good for an 84.8 percent kill rate. The Ducks were fifth in kill rate, giving up 46 goals on 274 penalties (83.2 percent). So while the Ducks were solid on the PK, they definitely went to the box significantly more.

EDGE: Sharks

Skiver: I know, I know. “But you only gave the Ducks the edge in one category.” Here’s the thing: John Gibson is the x-factor here. If he’s healthy, I can’t imagine the Sharks can put up enough points to beat him and the Ducks. That Sharks’ offensive edge is infinitesimal, and there’s a chasm in the goalie play. The Ducks also are proven to be able to win the close matchups. This is tight, but I like the Ducks. Ducks in 7.

Benjamin: Early in the year, this would’ve been an easy pick: Sharks. But things have changed, John Gibson is holding up and Anaheim is about as hot as any team entering the postseason. This should be a dogfight much like last year’s Ducks-Oilers series, but I’m sticking with the hot hand. Ducks in 7.

Blackburn: Some key injuries have hit both teams, but the Ducks missing Cam Fowler is a pretty big blow on the back end. If the Sharks can get the most out of their depth, find secondary scoring and get good goaltending from Martin Jones, I give them a slight edge. Sharks in 7.

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