‘Ducks Drill Down’ is a regular, ~weekly column that recaps the latest goings-on with the Anaheim Ducks.
As has been the story far too often in this tumultuous season for the Anaheim Ducks, they were unable to keep positive momentum going for an extended period of time. Following a 4-0 win home win against the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals that followed a pair of strong victories of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim could not take its winning ways into road contests in Nashville and Dallas on Thursday and Friday night respectively.
Road Losses to Predators and Stars
The Predators are the top team in the Western Conference, so a 4-2 loss there that marred Rickard Rakell’s two goals that brought his season total to 30 for the second straight year was not ultimately surprising. Neither was how heated things got between these rivals, as the bad blood from last year’s Conference Final series spilled into this one—particularly between Ryan Kesler and Nashville’s Ryan Johansen.
It was the loss against the Stars—a team right in the thick of the wild-card picture—that really stung for the Ducks. Anaheim held a 1-0 lead after the first period thanks to a Ryan Getzlaf goal, but the Stars began to take control of the play in the second period even though they did not score. Ryan Miller kept the Ducks ahead as the Stars outshot them 17-5 in the frame.
In the third period, however, a couple of penalties cost the Ducks, as the Stars scored twice, with the go-ahead goal coming with just 5:37 remaining. Unable to forge a late comeback, Anaheim had let a critical game slip away.
“It hurts having those two penalty-kill goals. It’s just one of those things where we have to be a little smarter,” said defenseman Brandon Montour. “Going into the period 1-0, anything can really happen. They put pressure, you have to give it to them, but for us it was one of those things where a couple plays hurt us and we got the tough end.”
Although Anaheim has taken the most minor penalties in the league, they have been strong on the kill, as their 82.6-percent success rate is good for ninth in the league. They had not given up a power-play goal for nine straight games before Friday’s game, and the end of the streak cost them dearly.
Kings and Sharks Lose to Help Ducks
Despite the disheartening pair of defeats, Saturday brought some better news for Anaheim, as the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks—two in-state, division rivals who are also battling for playoff position in the Pacific, both lost. The Kings got mauled by a struggling St. Louis Blues team at home, losing 7-2. Meanwhile, the Capitals salvaged their California swing with a 2-0 win in San Jose.
Those results leave Anaheim, with 80 points, in third place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Kings and one point behind the Sharks. Both the Kings and Sharks, though, have a game in hand on the Ducks.
In the wild-card picture, the Stars lead the way with 82 points through 69 games (the same number the Ducks have played), with the Colorado Avalanche holding down the second spot with 80 points through 68 games.
Ducks Submit Bid for All-Star Game
In other news, the Ducks have submitted a bid to host the NHL All-Star Game in Anaheim sometime in the coming years. It won’t be in 2019, as San Jose has secured its status as the hosting location. But for a team that has been around since 1993, it seems like a chance to host is somewhat overdue.
“We are definitely in the queue for an All-Star game in the coming years,” Tim Ryan, the team’s COO and the CEO of Honda Center, told the Southern California News Group on Friday. “It’s definitely part of the conversation on a regular basis.”
With the Los Angeles having already hosted the event twice at Staples Center—which only opened in 1999—it stands to reason that southern California’s other team should get its chance soon. The Ducks even played the Kings at an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium in 2014, so Anaheim should get its opportunity to have the spotlight for this type of event soon.
Part of the reason for the Ducks still being on the short list of teams to have never played host to the All-Star Game is because the organization’s Disney ownership never submitted a bid. But now, under new ownership, that has changed. As such, All-Star festivities at Honda Center are likely going to come to fruition fairly soon.
Ducks’ Upcoming Schedule
Back to the here and now, the Ducks are back home for the entirety of this week, facing off against the Blues on Monday, the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, and then the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Collecting at least six of these possible eight points would go a long way in solidifying Anaheim’s playoff hopes.
Tom has been with The Hockey Writers for almost four years. After previously covering the LA Kings and the New York Rangers, Tom now covers the Anaheim Ducks.
While in college at Clemson University, the 2016 college football national champions, Tom wrote game summaries and feature articles for the official team website of the Greenville Drive, a Class-A minor-league baseball team and affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Tom is happy to be able to continue to fulfill his passions for sports and writing with THW.