Monday, 03.5.2012 / 9:23 AM PT
|Channelling their inner marching band, the Ducks successfully form the shape of an arrow on the ice.
When you consider the opponent, the venue, the intensity in the building, and just how badly the Ducks needed that one to keep their playoff hopes alive, the 4-2 loss to the dreaded Kings was like a punch in the stomach. (In fact, when Anze Kopitar found the empty net with 14.5 left, you could definitely feel something in your gut.)
For this Ducks fan at least, it was one of those games where you wake up on Sunday morning, remember what happened the night before and think, Damn.
But just like with the win over Calgary the night before at home, the Ducks could only afford to think about it for a few minutes -- maybe only as long as the bus ride from LA back to Honda Center -- and move on.
"Don't overthink losses and wins, and just take one game at a time," Luca Sbisa said this morning. "That's what we did back on that road trip. That was just game after game after game, so you didn't really have time to think about what you did last game. I think that's the way we have to approach the games right now."
And while the distance -- seven points -- between the Ducks and the eighth spot in the Western Conference didn't change over the weekend, the owners of that spot did. The San Jose Sharks, who have seemingly bought real estate in the top three spots in the conference over the past several seasons, have gone into a very un-Sharkslike tailspin that has seen them land in eighth. Dallas, which was entrenched in that slot for the past couple of weeks, beat Calgary yesterday on a Sunday that definitely didn't go Anaheim's way.
The Stars' shootout win meant they got two points (to move into seventh with 75) but the Flames also got a point to move four points ahead of the Ducks. Meanwhile, Colorado downed the reeling Wild 2-0 to move six ahead of the Ducks and one out of eighth. We've said it a million times, but it's clear the Ducks aren't going to get any help in their desperate hope for a postseason charge, and have to win and win often in their final 16.
That continues tonight at Honda Center against the Oilers, a quick home appearance before the Ducks have to play at St. Louis (second), Dallas (seventh) and Colorado (10th) in a five-day stretch.
The Oilers have had the No. 1 pick in the draft the last two years (Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and appear headed for a high pick again this June. They're 10 points behind the Ducks in 14th and have dropped six of their last nine. The Ducks took them down 5-0 in Edmonton back on January 13, part of Anaheim's torrid two-month stretch. Hall, by the way, has a bum shoulder, but did skate with the team this morning, and is expected to play.
Tonight is actually the first time the Oilers have been to Anaheim this season, as the two teams will face each other three times over the final five weeks of the season.
The good news for the Ducks tonight is that nobody in that crowded bunch of eighth-chasers is playing tonight, so a win puts the Ducks five back.
"I've looked at every team's schedule many times over," Bruce Boudreau said. "If we do what we're supposed to do ... there's still 98 points on the board, and if we win them all, I don't think it will take 98 point to make the playoffs. So that means we're still eligible to play."