The Anaheim Ducks had three players participating in the NHL All-Star festivities this year making a strong Southern California representation. Cam Fowler represented for the team with the other selected rookies. Jonas Hiller made a great showing on Team Lidstrom, he faced 17 shots which was the most all the goalies in the All-Star game. Hiller also allowed only 2 goals against, which was the fewest by any of the goalies.
Ducks forward Corey Perry played for Team Staal, thus having to face his own goalie in the second period of play. Perry tallied 2 assists on goals by the Blue Jackets Rick Nash and the Carolina Hurricanes and ASG captain Eric Staal, neither of which were against his regular season net minder. Cross town rival Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings represented Southern California hockey by notching two goals in the game, but lost out of player of the game to Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Sharp.
So now that the All-Star break is over, teams have to be ready to go into battle for the last half of the season. Some teams are fighting to try and make the last few playoff spots, while others are fighting to hold onto their spots.
Anaheim faced the San Jose Sharks in their return to the season. The Ducks looked sluggish and out of sync in the first period. The team’s defense was broken down and the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes. Anaheim began to battle back in the second and pretty much took over in the third period. They were only able to capitalize on one power play the entire game and the come-back push was too late, causing the Ducks to fall 4-3 to the Sharks.
The next four games for the Ducks are all against Western Conference competitors. The first up is the Colorado Avalanche who are currently battling in 11th position and are sitting on only one win out of the past 4 games played. Keep an eye on Matt Duchene, who is currently leading the Av’s in points, to continue to make plays and take shots on net.
Next up the Ducks face off against the Vancouver Canucks, who are sitting on top of the conference with 75 points. The Canucks have won 4 of the last 5 games, and that is without the help of standout defenseman Alexander Elder who will miss the remainder of the season due to back surgery.
Calgary will be the third stop on Anaheim’s four game road trip. Calgary is battling in 11th place right now, looking to move up in the close knit standings. Be on the lookout for Alex Tanguay, who leads the Flames in assists at 27, to be making passes and getting the puck to the net.
The last stop on the short trip will be in Edmonton. The Oilers are sitting on 38 points and have only won 1 of the last 5 games. Even though they’re at the bottom Anaheim shouldn’t go into this game expecting an easy win, Edmonton will continue to battle each and every game.
Anaheim has the talent to win some big games in the remainder of the season. They need to stay focused and continue to throw pucks at the net. Even with an 81.1% penalty kill average staying clear of the box will only benefit this team, especially with a power play percentage of 24.3 which is second best in the league.