Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
The second best Home power play in the league gave up two shorthanded goals to the 24th best Road penalty kill in what turned out to be a tough two points for the Ducks to wrest away from the worst team in the NHL. In its bid to get into striking distance of the lower playoff berths, Anaheim barely held its own with a team 25 points out of the playoff race.
Daniel, some people would say that there is no such thing as an upset in professional sports, and the Sharks will certainly be able to shrug off last night's shutout loss to the Blue Jackets as an off-night. Can the Ducks do the same?
At this point in the year, it's dangerous to shrug off poor efforts unless you're in firm possession of a playoff spot. Jonas Hiller told Yahoo! Sports "Right now every game is like a playoff game." However, the Ducks can't afford to be no-shows on games against teams behind them in the standings. They need to collect those points. It's easy to say 'we got the two points and there are no worries,' but attitudes have a funny way of shaping reality. If the Ducks start treating it as no big deal and believing that even a bad game is a winnable game, they'll probably end up giving away some wins down the stretch. I don't think I have to explain how detrimental that would be to making the playoffs.
In our introductory interview with Sleek, he asked us our five rivals for the Ducks. We both listed Edmonton. For some reason, they've been able to play very well against us over the years, which is why I think it's even more important not to shrug off this victory. We'll see them again before the Olympic break, at the end of March and then on the last game of the season. The Ducks can't afford to think that an accidental win will be okay next month or the month after against this team. Carlyle needs to challenge everyone to slam the door on Calgary and Edmonton and head into the break having completely erased this poor performance from their memories.
I think there have been too many of these off-nights to simply file this one next to them. The shelf is full, and it probably has been since the first week of January. I know there has been A LOT of rotation in this lineup, and I know it's been tough for some players to get their feet set, but you know what? That's Carlyle. That's what most of these players signed up for. And it's not his fault the margin of error on this season is gone; it's theirs.
I know, going into this season, I predicted this team was going to be a 6th seed that would spend the first half of the year finding their legs, but by 'finding their legs' I meant finding their stride, their chemistry, their roles on the team. That's no t their biggest problem right now. It's FEBRUARY, and this team is still trying to figure out how to show up for 60 minutes. It would be a mistake for them to do anything but remember this game as luck, as grace from the hockey gods that will never shine upon them again.
Yes, this is just one game, and yes, the Sharks didn't have it any easier last night with a supposed cellar team, but the effort the Ducks gave, the effort that allows a struggling team to take the contest to the distance, is not the kind of effort that will cut it in the race to the playoffs, forget the playoffs themselves.