The post Stanley Cup era Ducks teams have more often then not waited until after the all-star break to make a serious push towards the playoffs. With the all star game now complete, and Corey Perry on his way back to Anaheim, we could be set to witness yet another second half comeback out of Orange County.
It’s very possible: While the Ducks have a much higher hill to climb this year being 12 points out of a playoff spot, they do have the advantage of an incredibly successful January campaign to serve as a foundation for their second half heroics. In addition to their 8-2-2 January record, the Ducks odds are strengthened by the fact that they are almost completely healthy. Jason Blake has recovered from a wrist laceration and Jonas Hiller seems to be completely free of the vertigo symptoms that plagued him last year.
With all the pieces in play Anaheim’s playoff fate will likely continue to ride on the shoulders of its top line. The performance of Corey Perry especially will be a huge factor in determining whether or not the Ducks are a playoff team this year. Last year his late season surge was enough to land his team the fourth seed in the Western Conference, and land himself the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP. Chances are Perry will need to have another MVP caliber second half in order to even get his team in playoff contention, as Anaheim resided in the bottom of the league up until January 3rd.
Yet the team has accomplished a lot in one month’s time and is no longer a candidate for this year’s number one draft pick. If this trend continues, the Ducks are on pace to easily eclipse the 90 point marker, and make a push for a playoff berth before April. With an eight game road-trip coming up in the middle of February, the Ducks will need to have excellent February road record to mimic their January performance and put themselves right in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture for March.