Anaheim Ducks are in the playoff race is now a reality!
When the Ducks are 20 points back in December of course you still want the team to win, but you have to be realistic about things. You still Cheer for them every game, but you look at the standings and start to think about what your team needs to do in the off-season so your team can be a contender next season. You start looking at the top draft picks for the draft in June. You say to yourself, well at least we are going to get a really good player in the draft! Maybe we can get Nail Yakupov, or Mikhail Grigorenko they are going to be great players that can step in right away! You are watching the Ducks play hoping they can turn things around, but they just aren’t. When it gets towards the end of 2011 you start to think to yourself, I know this team has good enough players to win, but it might be too late.
Then January comes around. The team starts to win. after the first couple of wins you say where was this team the last 2 months? You also say well it was just the Islanders and Bluejackets we just beat, it was fun to watch the team win again, but we are still too far back to get too excited.
Then the Ducks keep winning. They are working harder than ever before. Their style of play is just so much more inspiring. The effort is there every single night. The next thing you know you say if we keep winning we can get back in this!
February comes around they start the month with the worst game in a while losing 6-2 to Dallas. Now you are wishing it could be January again. You still have faith in your team though. The next 3 games the Ducks go 2-0-1, and you know your team is back on track. Now you look at the schedule and you see the Ducks have a 8 game road trip. You read in the articles that this trip will make or break the season for the Ducks. The trade deadline is in only a couple of weeks and this trip will determine if the Ducks will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
The road trip starts with a very tough 2-1 overtime loss against the great Detroit Red Wings, Perhaps the only team playing as hot as the Ducks. It was a really close game as the score suggests, and you know the Ducks played good enough to win that one. Then Perry gets a hat trick in a 5-3 Ducks win over Columbus, then he scores the game winner in the next game a 2-1 win over the Wild.
The day the Ducks played Pittsburgh. This looked to be the hardest game on the trip. It was the second game of a back to back on the road. It was against a great Pittsburgh team that had the day before off. If the Ducks lost a game of the trip you would probably say it would be this one given the way the schedule was set up. The Ducks still win! 2-1 with goals by Perry, and Selanne and amazing goal-tending by Hiller.
Now the Ducks are only 6 points out of the playoffs! They are actually in the playoff race now! This isn’t hopping we can keep winning, but knowing the reality is you are in too big of a hole to get out of anymore. We are actually in the race! It will still be incredibly hard with all the teams ahead of us. We still likely need to go 18-5 to get in. But we are a winning team now! This it what winning teams do!
Win or lose this has been an exciting season, but the fact is the Ducks are actually a part of the playoff race, every game will have meaning, and that is all you can ask for as a fan.