Anaheim Ducks Stringing Together One-Goal Victories to Stay Atop the League


Dec 5, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Maroon (19) celebrates with forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) after defeating the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

October 24th, 2014.   That’s how far back you’d need to go to find a game in which the Anaheim Ducks won by more than one goal.  Since then, they’ve had twelve victories and all of them with a one goal differential.

Considering the Ducks currently sit at the top of the league in points, this is hardly a bad thing.  On the other hand, the Ducks are a deep team with lots of potential talent, so it does seem unusual that they have gone so long without a complete blowout victory.

Part of this is the nature of the NHL in that every team is competitive and every team could win on any given night.  However, what is it that the Ducks are doing that has amounted to so many one goal games in the last month?

Part of it could be attributed to the defense first mentality of the coaches this season.  They talk about it a lot, especially after the game against the Penguins where the Ducks lost 6-4, that the Ducks need to start with a strong defense and work their way out from there.  Clearly it’s been working for them as all their games have been close and have had very few wide open periods of hockey.  Their defense first mentality may not lead to a plethora of goals, but it’s been winning games for them.

Frederick Andersen started in his sixteenth consecutive start on Wednesday and he’s showing very little signs of fatigue.  He’s been a stabilizing force in the net and a big reason these games have been as close as they have been.  The best example of Andersen’s influence on the Ducks can be seen in their game against Chicago, a game they eventually lost.  Halfway through the game they were down 3-1, but there was still a glimmer of hope for a comeback due to some big saves from Andersen (including this block on Hossa).  Andersen kept them in that game even though the Ducks lost it early on.

More than anything, it’s the confidence.  The confidence in the team, the coaches, the system to keep the Ducks competitive and to keep them winning games.  The Ducks know that whoever is in the lineup they can win if they stick to and execute their game plan.  If they’re down, they have confidence that they’ll play hard, compete, and get back into the game.

Where this confidence will really take flight is during the playoffs.  If the Ducks get in the playoffs (*Knock on wood*), this kind of confidence and competitiveness in close games will be key in winning games.  Every team elevates their game in the playoffs and every team is going to be competitive, so, to have confidence in tight games going into the playoffs could be a great advantage for the Ducks.

Pittsburgh leads the Metropolitan Division with 39 points and a +24 goal differential.  Tampa leads the Atlantic with 41 points and a +25 differential, and the Chicago Blackhawks lead the Central Division with 41 points and a +34 goal differential.   The Ducks have a +7 goal differential and sit on top of the Pacific Division with 43 points.  These games are close, but they are wins nonetheless.  At the end of the day it’s not about how you win the game, it’s that you do win the game.  The Ducks are winning games right now, let’s hope that carries over into the playoffs (*Knocks on wood*).