The 2015-2016 NHL regular season is now in full swing and we are starting to see a playoff picture form. It is safe to say the most of the teams that currently hold a playoff spot will indeed make the postseason this coming spring. However, there is a team in Anaheim that is hopeful they can turn what has been a poor season to this point around and be one of the sixteen teams battling for the Stanley Cup in April.
The Ducks find themselves at the bottom of the weakest division in the National Hockey League after 29 games played. A hockey team that expected to be at the top of the standings is currently looking up at the likes of Edmonton and Arizona. This is obviously a position one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year did not predict they would be in at this point. With 53 games still to play, Anaheim can resurrect their season. The Ducks are down but by no means out of contention.
Necessary Weapons in Arsenal
The biggest struggle Anaheim has experience so far this year resides on the offensive side of the ice. Believe it or not, the team that has the reputation for high-powered offense cannot seem to put the puck in the back of the net. The Ducks have only managed to tally 55 goals this season which is bad enough for worst in the entire league. The second worst team in regards to scoring has 61 goals. This means that the Ducks are far behind their competition in an area that has always been a strength for them. Unsurprisingly, Anaheim also sits in last in goal-for per game with a measly 1.90 average.
The Ducks offensive woes stems from poor production by most of the team’s more talented players. Besides for Corey Perry, nobody else can seem to find their groove. The most shocking of the slumping players has to be captain, Ryan Getzlaf, who has managed only one goal to this point. Ryan Kesler is also off to an uncharacteristically bad start with only three goals and eight assists. The list of players underperforming offensively for Anaheim can go on and on but nobody can deny the Ducks would be in a better spot if they got the numbers they expect from these two gentlemen.
The fact that the Ducks do have so many player that can potentially provide the necessary offensive firepower to move up into the playoff race has to provide fans in panic with some minor comfort. There is just no way the Getzlaf and Kesler (among others) can remain this unproductive for much longer. Maybe not everybody can get of the funk but you have to believe that most will, and the Ducks should be able to climb out of the hole they have dug themselves.
A Weak Pacific
Due to the fact that the Ducks are playing in an extremely weak division, the hole they currently find themselves in is not that deep. Anaheim is in last place in the Pacific but only three points behind both second and third place.
It is more likely than not that both wild card teams in the Western Conference will come out of the Central Division, which means that the Ducks must move up to at least third place to make the postseason. This task is extremely achievable at this point in the season. Anaheim is going to improve their game (because they can’t get any worse), and some of the other teams in the division are going to cool off. I am still having difficulty believing that Arizona’s level of play can be maintained for a whole 82 game season.
The only spot that may be to difficult for the Ducks to reach is first place as the Kings have put a solid thirteen points between them and Anaheim. Fortunately you don’t need to be at the top of the division to make the postseason. The Ducks are very much apart of the playoff race and should find a way to get in when it is all said and done.
Productive Road Trip a Must
Anaheim has not been playing to many games lately but will start a four game road trip on Thursday in Buffalo. In a span of six days, the Ducks will face off against the Sabres, Devils, Islanders, and Rangers before heading back to the Honda Center to take on the Flames.
Postseason position is not far out of sight but the Ducks must start acquiring points, preferably wins, in their match-ups. The upcoming road trip features four good hockey teams which will prove to be quite the challenge. There is no better time than now for Anaheim to prove to the rest of the league that they are not as bad as they have been recently. Recording wins against some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference could be what this team needs to light the spark and transform the Ducks into the contenders everyone expected them to be.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.