Just a couple months ago, there was no hotter team in the NHL than the Anaheim Ducks. From December 6 to January 15, the team lost just one game. To put it bluntly, the Ducks looked flat out dominant, a club anyone would hate to run into come playoff time.
However, things aren’t as sunny in Anaheim lately, with the Ducks now losers of four straight. The first three came against the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today. No shame in struggling a little bit there, right?
Excuses like this were nowhere to be found last night, though. Anaheim went up to Alberta to take on the struggling Calgary Flames and were beaten soundly. The Flames roared out to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period, and ended up winning the game 7-2. For a Ducks team that, at one point, was looking like a contender for the Presidents Trophy, this one stung.
Based on numerous reports, the Anaheim locker room wasn’t a happy place at the end of regulation. Words like “ridiculous,” “embarrassed” and “stupid” were tossed around, and for good reason. For all intents and purposes, a game against Calgary should’ve been just the pick-me-up the Ducks needed. Instead, they had their doors blown off.
With just weeks left until the postseason, should Anaheim be worried about their play as of late?
Currently, the Ducks are second in the Western Conference. What was once a comfortable spot in the standings, however, has now become a little tighter. Only three points separate Anaheim from the fifth place Chicago Blackhawks. If the Ducks keep putting up performances like last night’s they could risk losing precious home ice advantage come playoffs.
Another concern isn’t so much whether or not they make the postseason, but if play like this is carried over with them as they attempt to win the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. They’ve only made the playoffs twice in the last four seasons, both of which ended in first round exits, so you don’t need to tell them how important it is to play your best right out of the gate. If these losing ways keep dragging on, who’s to say the Ducks won’t be hitting the golf course early again this postseason?
In the end, it may all just be a funk the team eventually works its way out of. They’re loaded with talent, which is always good for snapping losing streaks. On the flip side, they don’t have a ton of time left to find their rhythm, so they need to right the ship pretty quickly.
There are 16 games left on the schedule for Anaheim. For a team that needs to put together a string of quality wins, it’s not a lot to work with. People will be keeping an eye on how the Ducks finish the year out. If it’s as bad as they’ve been playing, Anaheim might not look as intimidating as they were earlier this season.