The Ducks took three losses and two points from their three game road swing, but they played better in stretches than that result might imply. That may be the small solace they take with them as they head back to Anaheim with 7 of their next 8 at the Ponda Center.
Arthur, who was playing well on this road trip that you think needs to keep playing well at home for the Ducks to find a stable position in the points column?
Well, I want to say Jonas Hiller or Corey Perry, but I can't. Don't get me wrong, this team will definitely need to keep the goals against down with the Kings, Red Wings et al. coming into town, and Corey Perry was probably the steadiest hand on this road trip, really earning his shots, using his body to protect the puck and working his way into seams in the defense. The Ducks will need that too.
Still, I think the key to success is going to lie in how well Carlyle manages this lineup. His performance may be the most important during this homestand. There will probably be a call up, maybe big, maybe small. The temptation will once again be there to ride the top line if things get tough. He may think of inserting size into the lineup with Voros.
But I think the head coach has to continue to give Bonino and Palmieri or (their replacements) the same thirteen minutes he gave them last night and in Chicago, and the ten minutes he gave them in the more special teams dominated contest in Dallas. He can't let having the final change discourage him from rolling four lines. This team is finally showing the ability to be effective up and down the depth chart. He can't shuffle this lineup the moment things go wrong. Yes, he needs depth, but he can't shuffle his way into it; he has to let the players persevere. And if this team can draw penalties and be somewhat effective on both sides of the puck, I think that gives them the best chance every night. One player can't accomplish all of that.
Since you went way off the page, I'm going to go a little more generic. Jonas Hiller needs to continue to play well in order for the Ducks to really capitalize on this next stretch of home games. If the Ducks would have won either of the first two games on this trip, it would have been because Hiller stole a game when the offense simply refused to finish. He stood on his head more than a few times, and I can't think of a single goal he gave up that was a disappointment. If anything, he would have had to have been lucky in order to stop the game winners against Chicago and Dallas.
If Hiller continues to keep the Ducks in the game, the offense will eventually come through for him. He's been outstanding for some pretty long stretches. If he keeps it up, the Ducks have a good chance at staying in the hunt in the Western Conference. You know, as long as Getzlaf and Ryan stop mistaking the half boards for open teammates when they're in the offensive zone.