The Ducks have made quite a charge up the standings and won’t be sneaking up on anyone thanks to their current 6-1-0 stretch. They’ll have Thursday and Friday to take a deep breath, let some teams make up a few games in hand, and reflect on their present perch: tied for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Eleven of their next 14 games will be on the road, where the Ducks’ record ain’t pretty – 8-11-3 compared to 16-7-1 at Honda Center. The question of whether they can keep up their torrid pace is a valid one.
“It’s a very crucial road trip coming up,” Teemu Selanne said. “It’s good motivation to try to use this time before the All-Star Break really strong.”
Selanne, as his is habit, sees the glass as half full. He points out that, through 46 games last season, the Ducks were 20-19-7 (47 points), five points behind this year’s pace (24-18-4). The Ducks have always been a second-half team and just because the second half is starting on the road, well, that shouldn’t be an obstacle. Right?
Well, head coach Randy Carlyle said the team has already proved it can play on the road.
“If you take away the first probably two weeks – the first seven, eight games on the road – we weren’t very good,” Carlyle said. “We got our game together a lot better. We got a lot better about going into buildings having confidence that we can have success. We played in some tough buildings and won some hockey games.”
Anaheim has already won in Philadelphia, San Jose and Washington – to name just three – an enviable resume for any team. Those wins came virtually out of nowhere after the Ducks started 0-4 on the road, losing those games by a combined 16-3 score.
The Ducks have also won twice in Glendale, where they’ll play Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes. While that might make it seem that much tougher to pull out a third win, “I don’t think it does anything other than help us with the confidence level, that we can win and play well in their building,” Carlyle said.
In their last visit to Arizona on Dec. 28, the Ducks notched a 3-1 win. However, that was also the game in which captain Ryan Getzlaf was lost to an injury that will keep him sidelined until February.
Remarkably, that was the game that launched their current run of success.