It's crazy to think that just a couple months ago, we were all getting ready to embrace the tank. Everyone was preparing to buy their Auston Matthews Ducks jerseys. Now, with one week left in February, were wondering what moves the Ducks will make at the deadline to try and make the push for the Cup this year as they are a mere 4 points behind the Pacific Division leading LA Kings. Anaheim's goals per game have gone from 1.85 to a respectable 2.44, their defense is top 10 in the NHL (2.39 goals against per game), and a recent 5-1-1 road trip has the Ducks feeling pretty darn good about themselves.
Now, Anaheim plays Calgary for the second time in a week to open a five-game homestand. With the race atop the Pacific being as tight as it is, every point counts. A strong showing against Calgary will go a long way to continuing the momentum Anaheim built on their longest roadie of the year.
Ducks: Thursday, 2/18 @ Vancouver Canucks (W 5-2).
Calgary: Friday, 2/19 vs Vancouver Canucks (W 5-2). "Game Recap: Flames beat the 'Nucks, Snap 3 game Losing Streak."
With Anaheim finally looking like the team we all expected to see to start the season and the Kings winning in overtime last night, the Ducks sit just 4 points back of the Pacific lead with a game in hand. A 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh to start off their most recent road trip had a lot of us worried. Anaheim's 5-0-1 finish to the 13 day trip, however, has them the closest they've been to the division lead since October.
Calgary comes into town for a Sunday afternoon game having played Anaheim just a few days before. The Ducks beat the Flames 6-4 on Monday in an up-and-down affair. While the Ducks were happy to get two points, no one was very satisfied with their play that night in Alberta. With the continued success of Bruce Boudreau's lines separating Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks should have no problem scoring against Calgary as they did earlier in the week. The key to an Anaheim win will be defending. A Ducks penalty kill that has sat atop the league almost the entire year was victimized for two powerplay goals in the first period against Calgary. If Anaheim wants to snag another W against their Pacific division foes they'll need to stymie the fast Calgary attack.
Calgary's best chance at making the playoffs again this season looks to be the wild card berth. The Flames sit 9 points out of a wild card spot right now and will need to get hot (pun intended) if they want to see the postseason again this year. After losing three in a row to Minnesota, Anaheim, and Arizona, Calgary got back in the win column Friday night when they handed Vancouver their fourth 5-2 loss in a row. The Flames have been very inconsistent as of late. Since winning seven in a row to start the month of December, Calgary has only been able to put together one streak of three wins since. And now they are in danger of dropping to 0-4 on the season against Anaheim.
The Flames bring a young and speedy group into Anaheim on Sunday. Led by 22 year-old Johnny Gaudreau and 21 year-old Sean Monahan, Calgary has a potent attack (tied for 9th in the NHL in GF/GP). Add in talented veterans TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano on the blueline and you have a recipe to light the lamp, a lot. And light the lamp is what the Flames will have to do if they want to beat Anaheim. Tied for second-to-last in the league in goals against, Calgary isn't going to shut you down. If they want to snag two points at Honda Center, Calgary will look to play another up-and-down game and try and outscore the Ducks stars.
Two hours before faceoff we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers for Nerds.