With last night's win, their sixth in a row, the Ducks are now 13-1-1 in their last 15 and two points back of the division-leading Los Angeles Kings.
Best: Ryan Getzlaf Stays Hot
The Captain assisted on the only goal of the night, and had some of his teammates been able to finish on their Grade-A scoring chances, he easily could have recorded three or four more helpers (not to mention the shorthanded goal he nearly scored when he hit the post in the second period). Regardless, he extended his point streak to 9 games, and during that span he has 14 points.
Worst: Not Dominating the Sabres
Not only were the lowly (but improving) Sabres able to keep within a goal the entire game, but they were also able to keep the shots, shot attempts, and scoring chances ratios nearly even. This really shouldn't have been allowed to happen.
Best: It Doesn't Matter
The Ducks didn't crush their opposition as thoroughly as they would have liked to, but it really doesn't make a difference. They got the two points and they know they can play better.
Worst: Injury Scare
Budding star defenseman Hampus Lindholm left the game temporarily after taking this big (but seemingly clean) hit from Evander Kane.
Best: Again, It Didn't Matter
Lindholm returned to the game shortly looking no worse off. In that period of time between his leaving the ice and returning to it, I'm sure all of us were thinking dark thoughts. But if any of us got so far as to thinking a six-week injury to Lindholm could allow the Ducks to circumvent the salary cap the same way the Chicago Blackhawks did last year with Patrick Kane, well, I think we could be forgiven.
Best: Freddie! Freddie!
He's 10-0-1 in his last eleven. To borrow a line from half the men who have ever coached at the NHL level, it's a good problem to have.
Best: Sekac-Garbutt Trade Continues to Pay Off
Whether or not the Ducks go all the way this year likely won't depend on one little trade made in January. But that doesn't mean the deal that sent Jiri Sekac to Chicago in exchange for Ryan Garbutt can't be considered a big win. Sekac (23 years old), despite his more apparent stick skills, never really developed into an effective player in Anaheim. Garbutt (30) meanwhile is neither highly talented nor likely to get much better, but he does play a smart, straightforward game, and more often than not seems like the best player on that fourth line. What's more, he isn't taking any penalties, which was a point of concern given his history.
Worst: Nick Ritchie Continues to Dissapoint
I know he's 20 years old and he hasn't reached his peak yet. I know Rickard Rakell looked lost out their in some of his first NHL games. And I know you don't get drafted 10th overall unless a decent number of experienced hockey people think you have the tools to excel.
That said, I have rarely seen a Ducks forward struggle this much for this many games. Bruce Boudreau has tried giving him help by playing him alongside Rakell and Corey Perry, and he's tried giving him fourth line minutes where he can play against the other team's fourth liners. Neither strategy has worked. Seeing as the Ducks are firmly in win-now mode, it should be obvious that Ritchie does not belong with the big club at the moment.
3) Sami Vatanen
The Finnish Flash 2.0 (Is that sacrilege?) scored the only goal of the game and later blocked a shot that ended up being one of the Sabres' best chances of the game.
2) Frederik Andersen
Hard to argue against a shutout-earning goalie, especially when his team only puts up one goal. That second-period save on Justin Bailey was his best work of the night.
1) Ryan Getzlaf
Your standard Hulkzlaf game. Nothing crazy, simply the best player on the ice every time he's out there.