Anaheim Ducks: Can Playoff Dreams Still Take Flight?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 7, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 7, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Anaheim Ducks
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 7: Troy Terry #61 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 7, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Now the Hard Part…

Now that we got the pleasantries out of the way, it’s time to figure out how the Ducks make a miracle run to the playoffs. As I said before, the Ducks have twenty-five games remaining after the Calgary game, and if they win that, they’ll move closer to Chicago. That’s a good lead-in to my first point: win and get points at all costs. All the other teams can lose in front of them, but if the Ducks don’t capitalize in any capacity, the journey is all for naught.

The good news for Anaheim Ducks fans is that in the stretch run, the Ducks will have 15 to 16 home games to only 10 more road games. Also, of the 26 games that they’ll play, 19 will be against Western Conference teams, including seven home games in this month alone. To climb the mountain may be hard, but if they can get some points, plus get some breaks, then the road to the playoffs may be reachable.

The Anaheim Ducks’ best chance to get back into the fight for a wild-card spot is inside their division: half of their games are against their division, and outside of Arizona, the Ducks play every one in their division, which is perfect for them. Outside of their division, they have games against Colorado, Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas.

With most of their games against the best of the West at home, the Ducks must take advantage of the home cooking. They have to get ahead of the opposition, every time, and not let the opposition pin the Ducks in bad situations which will take them out of their game early. They must stay out of the penalty box, a habit that they have struggled to break so far, but if they’re going to stay in the game against the West’s best, that is one key that can’t be ignored.

Another struggle that must be corrected for them to make a move is capitalizing on the power-play. The Ducks have hit a rut on special teams, partly because they don’t get a lot of power-plays in their favor, and when they do, they don’t make the opposition pay for committing those penalties with goals. The one good thing about the power-play is that the Anaheim Ducks have done a good job of trying to manufacture some good shots, but if they’re going to be a force down the stretch, they got to make do with the opportunities that they’re given in the game.

Now for the more interesting part: all the four teams that they’re chasing are from the Central Division: Winnipeg, Nashville, Minnesota, and Chicago. Nashville, Chicago, and Minnesota have twenty-seven games remaining while Winnipeg has twenty-five games remaining. All the teams that are in front of the Ducks have tough games remaining, including games against one another in the division.

That could balance everything out in that sense, but the Ducks can’t rely on that as a path to the playoffs. The good news for Anaheim is they do play St. Louis, Colorado, Chicago, and Minnesota in the remaining months of the season, so that is a plus in their Ducks’ favor, but it only will be a plus if they win those games.