By Drew Ericsen
The Anaheim Ducks had what seemed to be quite a whirlwind of a week. At the beginning of the week (Dec. 28, 2015), the Ducks sat on the floor of the Pacific Division with 32 points in their first 34 games. Now the Ducks are sitting tied for third (alongside the Vancouver Canucks) with 39 points.
Here is how the Ducks climbed into a playoff spot. There were a couple important factors that contributed to the Ducks’ sudden rise.
1. A Slumping Pacific Division
The Pacific Division is currently the worst division in the NHL. Other than one team, the Los Angeles Kings (25-11-2), every team has been struggling to come up with the sufficient amount of points that would allow them to rise to the top in all three other divisions. This is beneficial for a Ducks team that struggled out of the gate, but now seems to be turning the corner. The lack of production throughout the entire division is something that the Ducks can take advantage off. At this rate, if the Ducks can find a way to continue their point production from last week, then they will certainly make the playoffs. They may even have an opportunity of challenging the Kings for first in the Pacific Division.
2. The Play of the Kings
Like it or not, the Kings have been helped facilitate the Ducks’ rise in the rankings. The Kings have dominated the Pacific Division teams so far this season. Three key wins this past week illustrate my point.
Dec. 28th Kings 5 – 0 Vancouver
Dec. 29th Kings 5 – 2 Edmonton
Dec. 31st Kings 4 – 1 Calgary
While it may take Ducks fans a little time to get acclimated to rooting for the Kings, these key wins denied two points to the teams ahead of the Ducks in the standings, providing the Ducks the opportunity to climb the standings. Given the Kings’ lead in the division, we should hope that their dominance of the other Pacific Division teams continues. The Kings look like a lock of the playoffs. We should accept that disappointment, and hope they continue to provide setbacks for the teams chasing the Ducks.
3. John Gibson‘s Play
Gibson’s play in net has also helped get the Ducks back into the playoff hunt. Gibson went 5-3-1 with a 1.62 GAA, .929 SV%, and three shutouts in 10 appearances last month. Gibson had a shutout streak of 184 minutes and 30 seconds spanning over his last four games. He won all four of those games only giving up a total of three goals. Gibson was also named the NHL rookie of the month for December. For more on the honor click here: Gibson Named Rookie Of The Month.
Good news for Ducks fans, it seems as if the Ducks are on the rise. This means trouble for the rest of the Pacific Division. The Ducks finally have a winning record and are in a playoff spot, both for the first time this season. The current home stand will likely be a huge indicator of how the remainder of the Ducks’ season will go.
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