By: Drew Ericsen
This week the third place slot in the Pacific Division saw three different teams drop in and out. For reference, here are the changes to the position of third place that have occurred throughout the week:
Ducks: Jan 4 – Jan 5
Calgary: Jan 6
Vancouver: Jan 7 – Jan 8
Ducks: Jan 9
Vancouver: Jan 10
As of this today (January 11), the Vancouver Canucks hold the coveted spot with 42 points in 42 games. While Vancouver holds the spot currently, there are three teams who are sitting right below them in points and have the opportunity to take the position over the next couple of days. There may even be a good chance that the slot is filled by yet another new team tonight. Unfortunately for the Anaheim Ducks, while they do play three games this week, they don’t begin to play their allotment of games for the week until Wednesday, January 13. Due to this the Ducks will most likely once again dip down in the Pacific Division standings.
So what needs to happen to get the Ducks back up top and into playoff position?
1. Stay Strong Gibson / PK Kings
When John Gibson first came to the Ducks in the draft, fans new that he was going to be a big deal. They were right. Gibson’s play throughout the month of December was so good that it even earned him the title of Rookie of the Month. As of now the Anaheim Ducks are 30th in goals per game with 1.9 goals. Because of this, the Ducks have needed to rely heavily on defense to win games. Gibson has proven himself to be quite the brick wall over the past month. It is imperative that he continues his excellent play for the remainder of the season if the Ducks want to make it into the playoffs. Another very important factor is the Ducks penalty kill. Currently the Ducks are 1st in penalty kill percentage with 89.7%. As stated earlier the Ducks need to continue their defensive dominance in order to jump back up in the rankings, and it is extremely important that the penalty kill stays as good as it has been.
2. Offensive Production
It doesn’t take a genius analyst to see that the Anaheim Ducks are having trouble producing offensively. While they have been able to rely on their incredible defense to win games as of late, this will not necessarily guarantee them continuous success for the remainder of the season. The best teams are able to stay afloat with a balance of good offense and good defense. For the Ducks, there have been hints that a storm of offensive production may be imminent. For instance, Ryan Kesler has finally seemed to click offensively as of late. Over the past five games, Kesler has scored 4 goals, and has tallied 4 assists. Could this be the spark that the Ducks need to get some regular scoring?
3. Make A Trade?
Another solution that has been posed by many is the idea of a big trade. With the trade of Max Friberg to Montreal in return of goalie, Dustin Tokarski, it would seem that the Ducks are setting up some kind of trade, as they now have more goalies than they need. It has been said that the Ducks could be looking at a straight forward trade for someone like Jonathan Drouin, or they could also be looking at trading a goalie and a skater, or a goalie and a high draft pick for a bigger name that can score. Whether or not the Ducks choose to make a large or small trade, something absolutely needs to change in regards to offensive production.
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