Saturday night in Los Angeles marked the second consecutive victory for Bruce Boudreau’s men over the beleaguered Kings, who at their current rate may very well miss the playoffs. Anaheim has feasted on the Pacific Division as a whole, amassing 23 points in 17 games at press time. Collecting an average of 1.35 points per game against divisional foes is a huge boost for any team, and even more so for the Ducks who compete in the cut-throat Western Conference.
The Kings, for all their struggles, are still dominating the league in possession ratings. Paired with a bad shooting percentage, there’s reason to believe that they’re simply unlucky and could have a huge second half. Yet Anaheim holds a 14 point lead over their cross-freeway foes, meaning that Los Angeles will need to play out of its mind to even catch the Ducks, let alone the Wild Card-leading Winnipeg Jets (who by the way, are the real deal).
Although L.A held a slight advantage in possession on Saturday night, they by no means dominated. Anaheim actually drove most of the play in the third period, which makes sense given that they were trailing, leading to more aggressive play.
The only thorn in the Ducks’ side this season has been the San Jose Sharks, who always seem to get the best of Anaheim. That barely seems to matter at this point though, as the Sharks find themselves in a heated race to even make the playoffs. They’re facing injuries to key players such as Tommy Wingels, and as THW’s own Andrew Bensch points out, their season may very well be in jeopardy.
All Alone In The Pacific
The Kings and Sharks, Anaheim’s traditional foes, are experiencing their fair share of woes, leaving the Ducks all alone at the top of the Pacific. They’ve won an inordinate amount of one-goal games in the process, and their underlying numbers are hardly the stuff of legend.
In their ascent to the top of the NHL, the Ducks have proven that for all the importance of possession and shots on net, there’s something greater to be said for winning close games. It’s hard to call them lucky, as they sit near the middle of the league in even strength shooting percentage.
With the score close, a situation that Boudreau’s squad often finds itself in, the Ducks sport a decent possession rating of 52.1 percent, further indicating that their incredible streak of tight victories is no fluke. There remains a ton of hockey to be played this season, but the Ducks are clearly taking care of business in their neighborhood.