Visit to Flames up next for resilient Ducks
- D Girardi retires after 13 seasons
- Hughes has goal, assist as Devils win
- Sens' Chabot gets 8-year, $64M extension
- Sabres D Montour out with hand injury
- Rangers' Panarin has mild groin strain
If any team can sum up the absurdity of the turtle derby that is the Western Conference wild-card playoff race, it's the Anaheim Ducks.
Somehow, the Ducks are still in the chase, despite losing seven straight games in regulation from Jan. 20 to Feb. 9, capping a horrific 2-15-4 run, after which head coach Randy Carlyle was fired on Feb. 10.
Thanks to a two-game winning streak and victories in three of four outings since general manager Bob Murray added interim head coach to his title, the Ducks are within striking distance of a postseason spot with one-quarter of the season remaining.
"I'm just happy the guys are competing and working again and having some fun," Murray told the Orange County Register. "I'm glad we're having some success. We're competing for pucks. It's not one-and-done anymore. We're competing, and we're keeping pucks alive."
The Ducks (24-27-9, 57 points) will look to pull a little closer on Friday when they visit the Calgary Flames. Anaheim is coming off a workmanlike 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to kick off a four-game road swing.
"This is kind of a year when teams are clumped together and not reaching out and taking hold of a position," goalie Ryan Miller said. "We didn't do a very good job in the last month and a half, two months. Luckily, there's a lot of hockey to be played... and we have to keep building when we can."
The Ducks certainly have veteran savvy to help amid the slow-speed playoff chase. Their core has been part of plenty of success over the years, including five consecutive Pacific Division titles through to 2016-17 and a second-place finish last season.
They also have a solid sense of confidence now that leading goal scorer Jakob Silfverberg has reportedly inked a five-year contract extension worth $5.25 million annually that will kick in next season -- a deal which can't be officially signed until after Monday's NHL trade deadline.
Silfverberg has elevated his game of late, scoring four times in as many games.
"I don't think it's just me, but it's the whole team," Silfverberg said. "I think we're all playing with a lot more energy. We've got some extra jump in our legs. I think we're playing with more confidence. I don't think it's just me who feels that, but I think it's the whole team."
The Ducks will face a Flames squad that appears to have regained its mojo. Calgary has won three straight, the latest a 4-2 victory over the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders -- a score that flattered the Islanders, who were outshot 32-19.
More importantly, the Flames (37-16-7, 81 points) are showing more of the form they had in December and January, as they rocketed to the top of the Western Conference.
"Even in that span where we weren't playing our best -- and I'm always one to look on the bright side of things -- we were still collecting points," defenseman Travis Hamonic said after beating the Islanders. "We felt like we were doing some good things, but some of the results weren't there. I think we've done well all season with that. Win, loss, we reset and reboot."
Still, as the Flames ready to punch their playoff ticket, the message will be to firm up their defensive play.
"We're going to have to be that airtight going forward," coach Bill Peters said. "We're capable of it and we're capable of still being dangerous offensively at the same time as being sound defensively."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 21, 2019
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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