The Ducks clinched the playoffs last night in a shootout win versus the Stars. It was a bittersweet end of regulation when the Ducks gave up a late equalizing goal, but only needed a single point to clinch.
After the trade deadline all the “experts” predicted Anaheim to quickly drop out of the playoff race and start the rebuilding phase. The Ducks did the opposite, going 10-2 down the stretch, bringing them from 12th in the west to 7th. They also put to rest any goaltending controversy they had early in the season. Jonas Hiller was sensational in his six straight starts, going 5-1. They are now tied with St. Louis at 90 points with each team still having a game remaining. If they should end up tied in points, the Ducks more wins, giving them the tiebreaker.
Now that we can finally look ahead to the playoffs, the Ducks willeither face the Sharks or the Wings in the first round. Now you might think I'm crazy, but I believe that they can take out either one of them. They have the potential to be a dark horse in the west. Anaheims blue line is considerably strong, especially with the return of Francois Beauchemin, who played last night after missing most of the season due to injury. With Pronger, Niedermayer, Whitney, and Beauchemin as your top four D, it won't be easy for the opposition to move in the offensive zone. They also have one of the hottest lines in the league. Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan have the talent to dominate a series. Another factor to take into consideration is the momentum they have going in the playoffs. As I said earlier, they are 10-2 down the stretch and starting the playoffs on a hot streak can carry a team.
I will save my first round breakdown for when we know who they will be playing, so for now they should enjoy the fact that they made it in. Not too many people thought they had a chance.
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Written by Dan Caristo