The 2018-2019 hockey season came to a close for the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night with a much better future outlook than the year as a whole.
A five-goal outburst against the LA Kings sent fans home excited for the future and with free chicken. The kids shined again, with Max Jones and Sam Steel among the top performers of the night.
The Kings took the lead early on a night that saw John Gibson ready to hit the golf course (or get like 16 hours of sleep) as Michael Amadio put home one of several rebounds spat out by the Anaheim goaltender. That would be as much hope as the Kings would have to finish their season on a high note, however.
Max Jones flexed the playmaking side of his game fans had yet to see this season when he grabbed a puck right in front of Kings goalie Jack Campbell, put it behind him and between his legs to the slot where Rowney was waiting to finish off the scoring chance.
Jones again dished out his playmaking skills when he fed Korbinian Holzer who had crashed the net and went in for his one or two times per season looking like an elite forward to give the Ducks the lead.
Daniel Sprong, likely playing for a roster spot in Anaheim next season, bolstered his case by hammering home his 14th goal of the season. Devin Shore drooped the puck on the rush to Sprong who quickly launched it up and over the glove of Campbell to double the lead.
Sam Steel tallied his sixth of the year on a beautiful and patient play from Jakob Silfverberg. Other than Drew Doughty apparently attempting to do magic by waving his stick at nothing, Silfverberg walked in and passed to Steel, who was left uncovered and tipped the puck to give Anaheim a 4-1 lead.
After a great backhand play by Kyle Clifford was wiped out by Bob Murray challenging for offside, Carl Gundstrom gave the Kings their second of the night. His score seemed to lend further support to the former Maple Leaf’s job application as a Duck-killer, undoubtedly a role Kings fans will be just fine with over the next few seasons.
Anaheim finished out the season and sent fans home happy and hungry for free chicken when Jakob Silfverberg scored on the empty net to give him a career-high 24 goals on the season and the Ducks a 5-2 victory in the season finale.
Best & Worst
Kids acing their auditions: Bob Murray told media and fans that the kids would be brought up so he could closely evaluate them for spots on next season’s roster. Several of them nailed those evaluations, especially Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Sam Steel. While they haven’t gotten guaranteed spots, they certainly made Murray’s roster decisions for next year much easier.
Jakob Silfverberg’s career year: We may still think trading him was the best move from an asset management standpoint, but watching Silfverberg turn it on since his contract extension to set a career-high in goals.
Who needs to tank anyway: The win means the Ducks will have no better than the 8th best odds for the draft lottery on April 9th, and could possibly have the 9th best odds depending on the results of the Vancouver Canucks finale tonight.
Ducks hockey is over...for now: This season may have been a rough one for the most part. But this is still the sport we’re all passionate about. And this is the first year since 2012 that the Ducks have gone in to a game knowing it would be the last one of the season. At the end of the day, we can chalk that up in the worst category.