It may seem strange to some that I am excited about the Anaheim Ducks losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime 1-0. After all, the one point earned is just a small reward compared to the blow of losing.
Or is it?
The reason why Ducks fans have to be excited after this loss is that finally, after all this time, Anaheim played like a strong team. The defense was solid in stopping plays by frequently collapsing in front of the net. The offense outshot Chicago 39-24, and many of these shots were near goals (to his credit, Corey Crawford was on fire in net). Finally Frederik Andersen was getting much-needed assistance in puck stopping, and this only improved his solid goaltending (which earned him third star of the game).
Undoubtedly the sports news outlets will highlight how this continues Anaheim’s losing record and how they have been shut out five times this season. Instead, I am not seeing these stats, but reflecting on a team that finally had the drive and discipline to give a tough team (Chicago) a tough battle. This is what I believe, or at least hope, will transfer to the future games in 2015-16.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau spoke to the media and highlighted this point, stating, “We can’t just be a one-and-done group. We have to do the same thing tomorrow. This is where your conditioning comes in. Hopefully we’re up to the task.” This is truly the turning point for the team, for in the future they will need to play like they did against Chicago to win games. Obviously the forwards need to work on their shot accuracy, as some really golden opportunities were lost (most notably Corey Perry‘s shot that, instead of going in, epically pinged the post in a one-on-one situation).
Anaheim also has to mentally train themselves to play with the same intensity every game. I realize that the Chicago game was more emotional considering the loss to the team in last year’s Game 7, but that rage should transfer. Let the players get pissed off and give every team that faces the Ducks a living nightmare from here on out.