Why the Ducks Will Make the Playoffs
By Patrick Hoffman
For the last several seasons, the Anaheim Ducks have been one of the most consistent teams in the National Hockey League.
Year in and year out, they have solid regular seasons, make the postseason, and are a tough out in the playoffs. It has been like this for years and for the most part, the Ducks have always been seen as Stanley Cup contender.
Even though the team has not been as good this year as they have been in seasons past, this team will still make the playoffs. I know that it's an extremely tight Western Conference and even the Pacific Division, but this team will be fine for several reasons.
For starters, they have Jonathan Gibson between the pipes. Gibson, 24, has had a terrific season and has been the team's best player this season.
In 54 games this season (As of March 20, 2018), Gibson is 28-17-6 with a 2.46 goals against average, a .925 save percentage and three shutouts. He makes the big saves when his team needs it the most and inspires confidence to the group that plays in front of him on a nightly basis.
Should Gibson get injured in the playoffs, Ducks' fans can be at ease as they have Ryan Miller right behind him. Miller has put up excellent numbers in a backup role this season as he has gone 8-6-6 with a 2.49 goals against average, a .926 save percentage, and three shutouts.
Speaking of stopping pucks and keeping it out of the net, the Ducks' defense as a whole has been solid this season. The team is currently fifth in the league in goals allowed and if they continue to do that, they will be an extremely tough team to play against come April.
The Ducks defense is extremely physical, does a great job of protecting their netminder, and makes smart moves with the puck in their own zone. With guys like Cam Fowler, Kevin Bieksa, Hampus Lindholm, Francois Beauchemin, and Josh Manson manning the blue line, the Ducks are not only tough to get by in their own zone, but a few of these guys can produce offensively as well, which makes them a dual threat.
Another reason why this team will be fine is because they are finally getting healthy and all of their best forwards are starting to contribute on a regular basis again. Guys like Rikard Rakell (31 goals and 31 assists for 62 points), Ryan Getzlaf (11 goals and 43 assists for 54 points), Corey Perry (16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points) are all starting to put the puck in the net and it could not come at a better time.
Yes, the standings are very tight right now. As of this date (March 20, 2018) the Ducks hold the second wild card spot with 86 points, which is also the same amount of points that the first wild card spot holder, the Colorado Avalanche, has.
It is also frightening that as of March 20, the Dallas Stars are just two points behind the Ducks. With that said, the team has the same amount of points as the third place Los Angeles Kings and are just three points behind the second place San Jose Sharks (89 points).
Even with all that going on in the standings, the Ducks will be fine and make the playoffs because of everything I mentioned above. They have two good goaltenders, a solid defense, and their offense is starting to come together.
Come playoff time, this Ducks hockey club could end up being a very tough out in the postseason dance.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.