Sharks notes: Out for revenge against Ducks?

Sharks notes: Out for revenge against Ducks?
January 29, 2013, 1:00 pm

Saku Koivu and the Ducks beat the Sharks five out of six times last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – The Anaheim Ducks had a disappointing 2011-12 season, stumbling badly out of the gate and ultimately finishing in 13th place in the Western Conference.

That wasn’t due to their games against the Sharks, though. Anaheim took five of six games from San Jose, including all three at HP Pavilion.

Todd McLellan said. “They were well prepared. I thought we were a sloppy team against them. Basically in every game last year we didn’t execute real well. You have to give them credit for a lot of that.”

Bruce Boudreau was behind the bench for three of the Ducks’ wins against the Sharks, after taking over for the fired Randy Carlyle in late November.

He doesn’t expect the Sharks to be too concerned with last year’s results; rather, they’d like to pad their Pacific Division lead and remain perfect.

“I think they are more of, ‘hey, we’ve won five in a row, let’s go for six. Let’s run away with the division,’” Boudreau said. “I think that’s more where their mindset is, than lets beat them because they beat us.”

It’s still early, of course, but the Ducks look like a dangerous team, having won three of their first four. They are sixth in the league with 3.50 goals-per game, and sixth in power play (27.3 percent).

“I saw a couple of their first games, and they look like they’re in there and they’re battling,” Patrick Marleau said. “They’re playing well.”

McLellan said: “Their power play is always dangerous, and their goaltender always seems to step up and play very well against us. We’ve got to get to him.”

Third, fourth lines looking for goals

As hot at the Sharks’ top line has been, with a combined 36 points between Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the bottom two lines have yet to find the scoresheet. TJ Galiardi (two assists) and Tommy Wingels (one assist) are the only players who don’t have a goose egg in front of their names, in fact.

At the same time, the Sharks have held significant leads for long stretches during their five-game winning streak, so the focus for those lines becomes more about keeping the other team off the scoresheet. In that regard, they’ve succeeded.

A bit more offense would be nice, though.

“I’d like them to start with their game, and then look at the scoring after,” McLellan said. “If they’re doing what we need them to do – grinding, playing in the other team’s zone, creating chances, taking care of teammates, then we have to be happy with that.

“Will we need production from that group? Of course we will. To expect Patty Marleau to stay on this pace is unrealistic, although they can continue to play well.”

Winnik leads the way

Former Sharks forward Daniel Winnik signed with Anaheim in the offseason, and already has five goals and an assist while playing with Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. Even Boudreau is surprised at Winnik’s scoring surge.

“It’s an added bonus because, quite frankly, we weren’t looking at him to score this way. We were looking at him to be a great defender and a checker,” he said. “When he’s adding goals like that, it’s a definitely plus for our team.”

Marleau said: “He’s off to a great start. Good for him, and obviously our lines are going to have to match up well and do a job against that line. They’ve been playing really well, and getting a lot of energy going for them and playing in the other team’s zone.”

Sharks becoming targets?

The Sharks’ hot start hasn’t gone unnoticed, as they are already at or near the top of several national “power rankings.” The perception that they are still one of the Western Conference’s powerhouse clubs could be returning after a disappointing 2011-12.

“After this start, you’re going to have teams that are looking at us again, how we feel about ourselves, as an elite team,” Ryane Clowe said. “You’ll have teams treating you that way, so it’s only going to get harder from here.”

Boudreau was asked if he could use the Sharks’ franchise-best 5-0-0 start as extra motivation for his own club.

“If I could just sit there and do a rah-rah speech and it would happen, I would do it. The fact of the matter is, we know they’re going to come out and be a tough team to beat, and we know what we have to do, hopefully, to beat them,” he said.

Lineup check

Dan Boyle, who missed the third period of Sunday’s game against Vancouver with an inexplicable bloody nose, was not at the morning skate. He’s suffering from a cold, but is expected to be in the lineup tonight, McLellan said.

Injured defensemen Jason Demers and Brent Burns continue to skate. Demers looks particularly close, and was winding up for full slap shots in practice.

“Jason Demers is getting a lot closer. That’s the best I can tell you,” McLellan said. “Burnzie is skating more and more, so obviously they’re going the right direction.”

Antti Niemi (4-0-0, 2.01 goals-against average, .933 save percentage) will start against Jonas Hiller (2-1-0, 4.00 GAA, .864 SP).