This is Anaheim Calling to the Hockey World.
Last game, the Ducks did something they haven't been able to do all year: beat the Kings. It was a tough game at the Ponda Center, but the Ducks were victorious thanks to some great saves by Hiller and the familiar Home power play. It can be hard to identify turning points in a season, but this rivalry is growing and the importance of this game might be more than just the two points in the standings. Arthur, do you think this victory over the Kings will be a momentum changer that can help the Ducks jump start a big win streak, or is it just another win?
Well, I think it can, but for some of the same reasons I stated in the last question. First, there's a reason to focus. As Wisniewski said in The Register, the team knows this is an important stretch, and they're not taking these games for granted. Second, this isn't a very tough three games before the Olympic break. It's two games against the Oilers bookending a game with the Flames. Point-wise, this is the worst team in the league and a playoff bubble team that Anaheim can at least challenge.
Now, when they come back from the Olympics, the games against the Avalanche and the Coyotes will be tough, but the Ducks will be playing 8 of their first 9 games in March at home (with that early Phoenix game being the only one on the road). If they can continue to focus, and maybe if Joffrey Lupul is healthy, winning those games is not out of the question. The Ducks don't play a team that has proven its outright dominance over them until the Sharks on March 14th-- that's potentially an 8-game winning streak before they hit a brick wall.
Again though, I think this win CAN be a momentum changer, because the schedule and the Olympic break are mostly in Anaheim's favor for the early part of March. But even with circumstance lowering the bar, I don't know that this team is consistent enough to jump over it.
I think this win would have been a huge momentum changer if it would have come a little sooner. Honestly, I agree that these next 3 games are a great chance to close the gap the Ducks face against Nashville/Calgary for the last playoff spot. I think that shaking the albatross of being dominated by the cross-town rival will go a long way in the Ducks finishing strong before the Olympic break. But then . . . there's an Olympic break. I don't know how easy it will be to keep momentum going after a two week hiatus where all of our best players will be emotionally invested in fighting for their respective national teams.
I hate to say it like this, but I think any long term gain of this victory will hinge on how much Ryan Getzlaf plays in Vancouver. I know he intends to get back on the ice before the games begin, but if he has to miss even part of the Olympics, it would be awful for him and for Team Canada, but potentially good for the Ducks. Having a player like Getzlaf get rest and come back to set the tone for guys like Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, who will definitely feel the Olympic strain, will go a long way toward keeping the momentum from this game alive. It was strange watching a Ducks-Kings game and not seeing a fight, but there's no doubt that the hate is still there. Beating a rival like this should help the Ducks finish strong for the Olympic break, and there's a small chance that that momentum can carry over when everyone comes back from Vancouver.