The Anaheim Ducks can clinch a playoff spot tonight – with just one point in their game or an Edmonton win.
The Anaheim Ducks began their last long road trip of the season on Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg. The game was back and forth with scoring chances at both ends, ultimately ending in overtime due to a defensive breakdown by the Jets which Jakob Silfverberg capitalized on.
Tonight, the Ducks face a struggling Montreal Canadiens team with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot. They can clinch with one point earned from a shootout, overtime or a win, or if Arizona loses to Edmonton tonight in any way. Back in October it seemed as though the Ducks would be vying for the number one overall draft selection, thankfully things have turned themselves around.
“We stuck together and kept grinding it out. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a while.” –Kevin Bieksa, Ducks.com
There was a lack of an identity to this ‘new’ Ducks team at the start of the season. The new faces had a tough time adjusting to each other and it just seemed as if the team was not gelling properly. Kevin Bieksa attributes it to some added pressure at the start of the year.
“Expectations were high at the start of the season, We wanted to be at the top of the division the whole year, and we weren’t. We had to claw our way back. We stuck together and kept grinding it out. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a while.”
The turnaround as been a process but one most fans are thankful for. The non-firing of Bruce Boudreau needs more praise as he has kept a calm demeanor throughout the turmoil which has restored belief in the whole roster.
With David Perron’s injury on Sunday night, the Ducks will look to Mike Santorelli to step in and fill a role. The depth on the roster will prove its worth down the stretch of the season heading into the playoffs. The additions of Jamie McGinn and Brandon Pirri have shown a good mixture of speed and skill which diversifies the attack against faster teams in the east such as the Canadiens.
The last meeting between these two teams was McGinn’s first game with the club in which he scored his first goal. The March 2nd affair was a tight checking 2-2 game which was ultimately won by Anaheim in a shootout. These two teams have built up some haste in recent years, so look for the physicality to continue tonight. Extra motivation is on the table for the Ducks tonight as they look to clinch a playoff spot that seemed impossible a few months ago. The Ducks will then continue their road trip Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.