By Michael Walters
Despite two losses in a row and being three points behind the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks control their own destiny in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have one game in hand over the Kings and they will face them one more time before the season ends. There is a real possibility that Anaheim could end up in first place in the Pacific Division, but there is also a chance of ending up as low as third.
Though it is possible to win the division, it is going to be difficult for Anaheim. The Ducks are missing several players due to injury. The list includes David Perron(upper body), Chris Stewart(jaw), Sami Vatanen(Head), Simon Despres(Upper Body), and recently Kevin Bieksa(hand/wrist).
Here is the video where it appears Bieksa was injured during last night’s game. He did not skate with the team today according to Eric Stephens of the OC Register.
The Ducks are also without Ryan Kesler, who had to return home for a personal matter. His absence was significantly noticed in Anaheim’s wild 6-5 overtime loss to Toronto. There hasn’t been an update on when he will return to the team.
The good news is Stewart and Vatanen returned to practice on Thursday according to Eric Stephens. Today they were both on the ice again per Ducks’ Color Analyst Dan Wood. According to Bruce Boudreau it sounds like Stewart could play tomorrow, but it is unclear if Vatanen and Bieksa will be available.
Here is a video of the Ducks at work today in Toronto.
Possible First Round Playoff Opponents
If the Ducks were to win the division, then the first round opponent would likely either be Nashville, Colorado, or Minnesota depending on how the Ducks rank in the conference. Unless Minnesota or Colorado can catch Nashville or the Ducks earn the top seed in the Western Conference, the Ducks would face Nashville if they won the Pacific. The Ducks have played Nashville three times, losing twice. The Ducks have had zero success against the Avalanche being shutout 3-0 in both contests. The Ducks have beaten the Wild twice in their three game regular season series.
If the Ducks were to stay in second or fall to third place, then they would face their other rival the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks have faced the Sharks four times this season, winning three of those contests. Three of the four contests involved shutouts, two by Anaheim and one by San Jose.
Regardless where the Ducks end up in the regular season, they need to get healthy in the final weeks and build some momentum heading into the postseason. Nashville, Colorado, Minnesota, and San Jose are all opponents that aren’t going to be easy matches in the first round.
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