Just Winning, Baby
Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 10:53 AM
|Yeah, 8, we're all smiling a lot more these days.
A 6-2 rout of the Phoenix Coyotes last night at Honda Center gave the Ducks their sixth win in the last seven and a fourth straight win at home. Even better, the emphatic victory over a division rival came on a night when the RPG line registered one point, a night where even their own coach admitted his team was less-than-stellar.
"I thought we were pretty sloppy," said the normally optimistic Bruce Boudreau. "I was biting my tongue most of the night. [Phoenix] missed a lot of chances. We took advantage.
"I thought we were a little loose, but I’m not complaining. We still won over a good hockey club and we scored six goals."
And in a game where usual suspects Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan, Selanne and Koivu were relatively quiet on the scoresheet, Anaheim's unheralded third line of Jason Blake, Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano sparkled. They combined for six points, including Blake's fourth in the last three games. Don't look now, but that trio is a combined plus-11 in the last three games. And how about Blake, who missed 34 games with that horrific arm laceration, but came back to play two weeks ago? The Ducks are 8-1-1 with him in the lineup this season.
Now check this out: Dating back to last season, the Ducks are 15-2-0 in games where Blake scores a goal. (Researched that one myself, and I'm pretty damn proud of it.)
That of course includes last night, where Blake's goal late in the second period was the best display of that third line at work. On the rush, Cogliano made a pinpoint feed through a crowd to Bonino who touched it to Blake on the doorstep for the "slam dunk," as Johnny Ahlers called it on the broadcast. (Just had the image of Blake pulling off an actual slam dunk, and it struck me as a little funny.)
That goal gave the Ducks a two-goal lead, and they never looked back. It also was the second goal in a span of four minutes contributed by that third line. The earlier one came on another beautiful feed from Cogliano to Francois Beauchemin, who had a glorious night with two goals. His first came on an accidental assist by Blake, as a Lubomir Visnovsky rocket kicked off Blake's leg to Beauchemin for the punch-in. (Blake looked to be in pain, but didn't miss a shift, thought he was held out of today's practice.)
Beauchemin also an nice assist on Perry's door-slamming breakaway shorty late in the game. On the play, Beauchemin pitch-forked the puck off the wall to a darting Perry, who was right around the Prime Ticket logo outside the Phoenix blue line when you knew he'd pour it in the net.
That sixth goal -- more than enough to trigger some love from Hooters -- added to the Ducks' recent domination in which they've outscored opponents 31-13 in the last seven games. The only outlier during that stretch is a 1-0 overtime loss in Calgary a week ago today. That regulation shutout was just part of a quietly impressive stretch for Jonas Hiller, who has a gaudy .939 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average in the last six appearances.
And he had this nice quote to the OC Register: "Every decision we make, we know it's the right one and even if it's not, we know somebody has our back," Hiller said. "A month ago we were wondering if they were right decisions, and we weren't sure, and we didn't know."
Last night, with about 30 seconds left and the game all but over, the crowd at Honda Center got louder and rose to its feet, not only commemorating a convincing victory, but the recent stellar place of its resurgent hockey team. With the win, the Ducks climbed out of 14th place in the West for the first time since November 17. They're 13 points behind eighth-place Colorado (who has played three more games) with 37 games to go.
It's a tall task to make up that ground, but if the Ducks keep winning like this, who says they can't do it?
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While the Ducks don't play here over the next two nights, they will be at Honda Center tonight for the 15th annual Anaheim Ducks Casino Night, presented by The Klein Family. To fit with this year's theme, the Ducks will join guests dressed in their best white (and if they have it, orange) outfits. (I'm still deciding if the very-tight white pants I have left over from the '70s-themed Casino Night of two years ago is going to be appropriate.)
We'll have good coverage, including some player video, photos and more. Keep an eye on our Twitter page for updates tonight.