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Sports rivalries between California teams are always intense. When it comes to hockey there isn’t much of a history Garrett Grayson Jersey , but that’s about to change.

North meets South when the San Jose Sharks visit the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of a first-round Western Conference matchup on Thursday night at Honda Center

This is the 14th playoff series between California teams and only the second between San Jose and Anaheim. It will be nearly impossible to top the first series.

In 2009, the Sharks entered the postseason as Presidents’ Trophy winners and with franchise records of 53 wins and 117 points. The eighth-seeded Ducks pulled off the upset in six games.

This season, Anaheim (44-25-13) finished on a 10-1-1 run to ease past San Jose and the Los Angeles Kings into second place in the Pacific Division.

“If we didn’t have success, we might not even be qualified for the playoffs,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the team’s official website.

San Jose (45-27-10) reached 100 points for the first time in coach Peter DeBoer’s three seasons but enters the playoffs on a 1-4-1 slump after a season-high eight-game winning streak.

“We’re drawing probably one of the top teams in the league, and it’s a great test for us,” DeBoer said Monday.

The Sharks went 3-0-1 versus the Ducks in the regular season, with three games going to a shootout. DeBoer is not expecting an easy series.

“They had 101 points, and that was without (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Ryan) Kesler (hip injury) for big parts of the season, so they’re probably a 110-point team at the end of the day,” he said.

Carlyle, who led Anaheim to its only Stanley Cup title in 2007, gave his insight on the Sharks.

“They’re a skating, well-coached hockey club,” he told the Orange County Register. “Lots of balance. They’re not a flashy team by any means but they’ve got a lot of depth through their lineup. They play a high-tempo game.”

San Jose’s offense is powered by Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns Mike Evans Jersey , who overcame a slow start — seven assists in his first 19 games — to lead the team with 67 points. Wings Joe Pavelski (66 points) and Logan Couture (team-high 34 goals, 61 points) also figured prominently.

Sharks winger Evander Kane, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, will make his postseason debut. Kane had nine goals and five assists in 17 games after being acquired in February from the Buffalo Sabres.

“In the short period he’s been here, he’s brought speed, which backs teams off. He’s brought a physical presence, which keeps people honest,” DeBoer said Monday.

For the second straight season, winger Rickard Rakell was Anaheim’s top goal scorer, this time with a career-high 34.

Getzlaf appeared in only 56 games — he missed 19 between late October and mid-December after facial surgery — and tied a career low with 11 goals, but also put up 50 assists. He has 118 points (37 goals, 81 assists) in 121 career playoff games.

Anaheim also got 20 goals this season from winger Ondrej Kase — a seventh-round draft pick in 2014 — and 20 from center Adam Henrique after he was picked up in a late November trade from the New Jersey Devils.

Both teams have solid options in goal, but the Ducks may have the better tandem.

Anaheim’s John Gibson set a career best with 31 wins and posted a 2.43 goals-against average in 60 games, while Ryan Miller went 12-6-6 with a 2.35 GAA and owns 28 career playoff wins.

San Jose’s Martin Jones reached 30 wins for the third time in as many seasons with the club despite a career-worst 2.55 GAA. Aaron Dell, who won 15 games in his second season Ryan Quigley Jersey , has never played a minute in the postseason.

Both teams will miss key players. For the Ducks, defenseman Cam Fowler (eight goals, 24 assists) is expected to sit out the first round with a shoulder injury.

“The one thing they have is depth,” DeBoer said of Anaheim’s defensemen. “If (Fowler’s) in, he’s a great player. If he isn’t, they have a lot of great players.”

The bulk of the Ducks’ blue-line scoring comes from Josh Manson (career-high 37 points), Brandon Montour (career-high 32 points) and Hampus Lindholm (31 points).

San Jose will still be without Joe Thornton. The 20-year-veteran center has not played since suffering a right knee injury in late January. Nine months earlier, Thornton needed surgery to repair the MCL and ACL in his left knee.

“Not for Game 1, and that’s as far as we’ll go,” DeBoer said Tuesday.

Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday at Honda Center.

The Boston Celtics have been mining possibility out of improbable odds throughout the 2017-2018 season.

A season filled with so much promise was jolted just five minutes into their season opener back in October when Gordon Hayward was lost for the year to a fractured ankle.

It looked to be derailed for sure when Marcus Smart suffered a torn ligament in his thumb in March, followed by Kyrie Irving being sidelined for the season a month later following a pair of knee surgeries.

Yet, after completing a 4-1 series win with their 114-112 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, the Celtics are somehow back where no one – except maybe only them – believed they could be: headed to a second straight Eastern Conference final.

A rematch with Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James awaits them, but for a Celtics team that has had to trudge uphill throughout the season, still playing at this point of the postseason feels like reason to celebrate.

Coach Brad Stevens said this group has never stopped playing together despite all the challenges they’ve faced. It’s a testament to a program they’ve been nurturing since he took over as coach five years ago.

”I always hoped we would get to a point where if things don’t go our way Cameron Wake Jersey , we’re still extremely competitive because we have a kind of foundation in place,” he said. ”Things haven’t always gone our way, but these guys are really talented, they’re really tough, they fit Boston. And hopefully we keep playing well.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics are the first team in NBA history to reach the conference finals in back-to-back seasons, while returning only four players from one year to the next (Smart, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Terry Rozier). That are advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing so five straight times from 1984 to 1988.

Brown was reinserted back into the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since he injured his right hamstring last round in Boston’s Game 7 win over Milwaukee.

He made the most of it, combining with rookie Jayson Tatum to score 49 points on 18 of 28 shooting.

Brown said he was treating Wednesday’s game like another Game 7.

”We didn’t want to go back to Philly,” he said. ”We didn’t want to keep building their momentum and it was good to get a close out game here on our home floor.”

Tatum, who had the go-ahead layup in the closing seconds Wednesday, has helped fortify that quartet over the latter half of the season. Like Brown, he has become one of the go-to players on a reconfigured Celtics roster that in many ways is now being led by his youthful core.

He made his NBA debut against the Cavs back in October. He said he feels like a completely different player as he prepares to face them again.

”It’s like night and day,” he said. ”I remember the first time we played them I was so nervous. But it’s been 90 games since then. We’ve been through a lot. I’m a lot more relaxed and calm Danielle Hunter Jersey , but ready to go out there and play.”

PLAYOFF AL

While the young players on Boston’s rosters have been huge in Boston’s success, Brown said the veteran leadership of Horford has been just as important in helping hold things together throughout the season.

Despite being surrounded by a group of 20-somethings, the 32-year-old ”Playoff Al” has helped them all play well beyond their years.

But it hasn’t just been talk. With 15 points and eight rebounds in Game 5, Horford has now scored in double figures in each of Boston’s 12 games this postseason, including five double-doubles.

”We lean on our best, we lean on Al during those tough stretches, and he came up big for us,” Brown said.

SUPER ROOKIE

In five games this series, Tatum averaged 23.6 points while shooting 52.4 percent from the field. His scoring average is the second-highest by Boston rookie in a single playoff series. It trails only Tom Heinsohn, who averaged 24 points per game in 1957.

INJURY UPDATE

Tatum said he jammed his left thumb late in the game, but said it is OK. … Reserve G Shane Larkin (left shoulder sprain), who sat out Wednesday’s game, told reporters that an MRI revealed some issues. But he is going to work toward returning sometime against Cleveland.



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