Randy Carlyle’s message of staying positive appears to have sunk in.
Prior to tonight’s game against Nashville, one of seven teams the Ducks would have to catch to keep their pipe playoff dream alive, Dan Sexton spoke of getting on a roll – the same roll Anaheim has been trying to get on since the Olympics ended.
“We just need that first win to kind of get it going for us,” he said. “Once we do, I think things will be looking even more up.”
At least Sexton’s optimism could be blamed on youthful inexperience. But even cagey veteran Scott Niedermayer was looking on the bright side Thursday.
“Near the end of the season, everything is definitely getting
amplified, especially us trying to catch up to the top eight teams,” the captain said. “Performing
how we have the last four games is definitely disappointing. The good thing is,
we still have an opportunity to play better, be more consistent. That’s what we have to
If you believe in lucky numbers, here’s a start: A win against Nashville, which is tied with Calgary at 77 points for seventh place in the West, would leave the Ducks seven points out of the playoffs.
Mathematical elimination is still a ways off, with 32 standings points still on the table – for you optimists out there – if the Ducks were to rattle off a 16-game win streak.
Here’s the bad news: When the Olympics ended, Anaheim needed only two points to match the eighth-place Flames in the standings. The Ducks have gained only one point since.
“You have to deal with what’s coming next,” Carlyle said. “Those things are difficult to do when your team’s not emotionally and phys involved where you’d like them to be. that’s the
mental part we’re talking about.“
One source of hope was last season’s late surge, when the Ducks went 11-3-1 over the last 15 games to clinch a playoff berth. But there were fewer teams in their way last season. When the streak began, the Ducks had only Minnesota, Dallas and Edmonton in their way, and were three points out of eighth place.
The real miracle last season occurred in St. Louis, where the Blues were in 13th place in the West as late as March 9, then went on a 12-3-2 run over their final 17 games to gain the No. 6 seed (although it didn’t seem to matter much in their first-round playoff series against Vancouver).
“Our team has shown that we can be really successful in stretches,” Sexton said. “A team like Nashville, that would be a great jump-start for us, if we can capitalize on those guys.”