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Ducks @ Canucks Game Preview: Back To Games That Matter

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It's back to the games that really do matter....

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

This season's All-Star Game was actually pretty darn entertaining...from Alex Ovechkin's bid to be the final drafted player, to the Kessel-Seguin trade redux...not a bad show of 2015's NHL All-Star Games eh? We definitely had our fun cheering for our lone Duck Ryan Getzlaf on Team Toews!

Oh, and how about seeing that Flying V?!! WHA?!!!!

Most awesome NHL weekend thus farrrrr....

But all that is behind us now as we enter the remainder of the season. This is when we see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here is where we left off before the All-Star break....The Anaheim Ducks have won seven of their last eight games and left off on a 5-game win streak. Victories included against Winnipeg (5-4), Toronto (4-0), New Jersey (5-1), in LA (2-1 OT), and most recently against Calgary at home (6-3...it is also important to note that the last victory makes that Game 20...20 consecutive home games over Calgary.) Hey and would you look at that...Three of the five wins were MULTI-GOAL wins!!! *cheering ensues*

Game notes:

Along with the Captain, young goaltender Frederik Andersen has emerged as the staunch backbone of the Anaheim hockey club. He tallied his 46th NHL career win in his 62 career NHL decisions (46-11-5). Take that All-Star committee snub!

As said before, there is a reason why Getzlaf wears the "C" on his chest. He has undoubtedly been the foundation by which this team has been able to hang on to that top spot in the division (and conference, and league). But now, with Corey Perry back on his game the twins are dangerously back, having extended their point streaks to four games.

We finally saw what we had been looking for all season long during the Toronto, New Jersey, and Calgary games--multi-goal victories as well as depth scoring. Bruce Boudreau has been pulling his line switcheroos all season long, as he scratched this and that player, experimenting for the best combination down all four lines. It seems like he has grown quite comfortable with placing Patrick Maroon on the top line, pairing Kyle Palmieri with Ryan Kesler, and keeping the speedy duo Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg together. We are beginning to see a bit more stability and more chances/scoring as a result.

That being said, the Boudreau jury seems to still be out on Rene Bourque as well as Devante Smith-Pelly. We'll just have to wait as the trade talks intensify.

On the Vancouver side, you have your usual culprits of the Sedin twins. But as we have seen previously in this season, Radim Vrbata is the man to watch out for....He leads scoring with his 18 goals (including 8 PPG and 15 PP points). Neither did he hesitate in the All-Star game when he opened scoring for Team Foligno.

As of right now, Kevin Bieksa is out indefinitely with a hand injury, while Brad Richardson is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.

What Can We Learn From This Game?:

It cannot be said enough--the Ducks are now entering the most pivotal part of the regular NHL season. Sure, the Ducks did a pretty good job hanging on as the league's leading leader despite the ridiculous amounts of mumps outbreaks and unfortunate injuries. But as we all know all too well, the latter haul of the season is what takes teams into and through the playoffs. In the past couple season, the Ducks have been known to teeter off in the latter half of the season after burning all in their path in the beginning. But it's comforting to see that the Ducks seem to be heating up rather than reaching a plateau during this time of the season.

All season long, the Ducks have struggled to hold leads and win by more comfortable margins. We will now see if the All-Star break was to the benefit or to the detriment of the Ducks. With the exception of Getzlaf, the players were able to relax and nurse any lingering bumps and bruises.

Pure and simple, this game is all about getting back in the groove where the Ducks left off. They will be facing off against a Pacific Division opponent who currently stands third in the division with 55 points and two games in hand. Ducks will be playing in Vancouver so they'll have to get their legs under them quickly. This week's games are tough. Ducks are in Vancouver Tuesday, San Jose Thursday, and fly home for a back-to-back against Chicago Friday. Just get in there, shake off the All-Star break relaxation mode and restart with a win.

Fearless Prediction:

Luca Sbisa extends his pointLESS streak to 11 games. Then I point at you Canucks and LAUGH.