By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks had a strong month of January, going 7-3-0-1 and picking up 15 points in 11 games, their best month of the season. The Ducks also picked up seven wins in December, but that was in 15 games. That strong month has catapulted the Ducks into the middle of the playoff race in the western conference.
Anaheim’s best game in January was their most recent victory, their 3-1 win over Boston. The Bruins came into the game with points in 18 straight games, going 14-0-4 during that stretch. They’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL over the last couple of months, so ending their point streak was huge for the Ducks. Even more importantly, those two points gave them 59, tying the Ducks with Los Angeles for the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Adam Henrique, Cam Fowler, and Rickard Rakell all had multi-point games to lead the team. The only blemish was that John Gibson left the game late in the third for the second straight game. Thankfully, Ryan Miller came in and played well to help preserve the win.
The Ducks’ worst game in January was their 6-2 loss to San Jose. The Ducks and Sharks are two of the many teams battling it out for the final playoff positions in the west, and the Ducks simply cannot afford to lose to the Sharks right now. However, if they do, it at least needs to be a close game. This was not that. The only real highlight in this one was both Ryan Getzlaf and Rakell picking up two points each.
The power play was good but not great in January. Overall, the Ducks scored six powerplay goals on 30 opportunities in 11 games. The goals were scored by Corey Perry, Henrique, two from Ryan Kesler, and two from Rakell. Scoring at a 20% rate on the powerplay is pretty good, especially when compared to what the team was doing earlier in the season on the man advantage.
Anaheim’s shorthanded unit continued its strong play in January, killing off 34 of 40 chances, a success rate of 85%. Five of those powerplay goals were scored against Gibson and one against Miller. The Ducks also scored three shorthanded goals in January, with Chris Wagner, Jakob Silfverberg, and Henrique all lighting the lamp while the Ducks were down a man. By giving up only six goals and scoring three, that makes for a pretty lethal penalty kill unit.
January was a shorter month for the Ducks because of the All-Star break and their league-mandated week off. However, even with so much time off, the Ducks were able to take advantage and gain some ground in the west. In previous months, it has felt like the Ducks were just trying to keep their heads above water, waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Now that the team is largely healthy, they’ve started to make their move. Hopefully, it will be enough to propel them into the playoffs.
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January 31st, 2018