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Ducks and Sharks set for all-California series

by Eric Stephens
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It's been 40 years since the NHL playoffs featured an all-California series. After four days of waiting, the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are more than ready.

Not since 1969, when the Oakland Seals and Los Angeles Kings faced off in the first round, have two California teams met in the playoffs.

"We're excited," said San Jose rookie coach Todd McLellan. "But I think there are 15 others that were excited, either yesterday or today. There's a lot at stake obviously.

"I know the players are prepared. We can give them all the information they need. We've had an 82-game warmup. It's time to go out and play."

Mind games between coaches are often played at this time of year. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle tried to deliver some misinformation to the San Jose Sharks' coaching staff that sat in the stands watching their morning skate.

Carlyle had left wing Drew Miller skating on the top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, with rookie sensation Bobby Ryan on the energy line with Ryan Carter and Mike Brown. The fourth-year coach even said enforcer George Parros could see time on the top line -- but few expect that, given that Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan line has combined for 22 goals and 26 assists in the Ducks' last 13 games.

McLellan only had the Sharks skate for 20 minutes to get loose and work on a couple of things, such as offensive zone play and positioning center Joe Thornton in front of the net on point shots.

As far as lines are concerned, San Jose to stick with the combinations that helped win the Presidents' Trophy. Thornton will center Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi while the trio of Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek form the second line. Ex-Duck Travis Moen figures to skate on a checking line with Marcel Goc and either Jonathan Cheechoo or Mike Grier.

McLellan said Claude Lemieux, the 43-year-old four-time Stanley Cup champion and former playoff hero, won't be in the lineup.

Carlyle said that he didn't read much into his team's emotion on the morning of Game 1.

"The mood in the morning has no indication on the mood that has to be displayed tonight," he said. "The mood in the morning is always just preparation. I don't think you can ask them to be focused in like they have to be at game time. It's more about getting out there to skate a little bit, get their hands moving.

"They've been sequestered in meetings and video and all that stuff. That takes up a lot of time over the last couple of days. Now it's time to just go play."

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