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Back to the Hunt

After being idle for the past four days, the Ducks are ready to return to the ice and put the finishing touches on their quest for a fourth straight playoff berth

Thursday, 04.09.2009 / 7:18 PM / Features
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Back to the Hunt

By Matt Vevoda
AnaheimDucks.com

A prolonged break in the schedule resulted in the Ducks becoming bystanders the last several days in the hunt for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. But with each passing day, the picture has become clearer on what it’s going to take from Anaheim in order to punch their ticket to an unprecedented fourth straight postseason appearance.

"We still have to win a game here to get in," Pronger (left) said. "We feel like we're peaking at the right time. It's just a matter of continuing to push ourselves and making sure we're running on all cylinders."

The Ducks currently occupy the seventh spot in the West with 88 points, the same amount as St. Louis (eighth) and Nashville (ninth). Minnesota is 10th with 85. As it currently stands, the Ducks would need two points over the final two games (Friday vs. Dallas, Saturday at Phoenix) to claim a playoff berth. That magic number could be even lower by the time the team hits the ice at Honda Center tomorrow night.

Nashville plays their final regular season game at Minnesota tomorrow night (5 p.m. start) If the Wild beat the Predators in regulation or overtime, the Ducks will only need one point to clinch a berth. Itching to get back on the ice after a four-day break, Anaheim wants to finish strong and leave anything for others to decide.

“You definitely don’t want to rely on other things,” said Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks, who have won nine of their last 11 contests. “We have an opportunity to play two games right now. We just want to keep going with what we’ve had here now, play well as a team, compete and work hard.”

The Ducks would love nothing more than to clinch that playoff spot on Fan Appreciation Night, their final regular season home game. “It would be so nice to clinch a playoff spot at home,” Ryan Whitney said. “We had some days off. Everyone is rested. We are really excited to just play and hopefully have a great start. That is what we’ve talked about. I don’t think we’ll be flat at all. I think we’ll play real well.”

“The bottom line is it’s the most important game of the year. I know you’ve heard me say it, but this probably is an exclamation point at this point in our season tomorrow night.” - Randy Carlyle

Their opponent tomorrow night is a familiar foe in Dallas, their Pacific Division rival and adversary in last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals (which the Stars won in six games). Despite recently bowing out of this season’s playoff race, the Stars should still provide a strong matchup. The Ducks are 2-2-1 in their five previous meetings this season.

“They are a hockey club that is going to come here and compete,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle of Dallas. “You know that for sure. They are going to make sure that they do everything in their power to win the hockey game. And we better be prepared to do the same thing.”

"It would be nice to clinch a playoff spot at home," Whitney said. "We had some days off. Everyone is rested. We are really excited to just play and hopefully have a great start. I don't think we'll be flat at all. I think we'll play real well."

For the last several weeks, every Ducks game has been huge in the team’s quest for a spot in the playoffs. With that prospect as close as ever to becoming reality, Friday night is truly the biggest day yet. “The bottom line is it’s the most important game of the year,” Carlyle said. “I know you’ve heard me say it, but this probably is an exclamation point at this point in our season tomorrow night.”

If they do succeed in reaching that goal, the Ducks will have done it by coming back from 12th place in the conference as late as March 18. And they will have done it by playing their best hockey at the perfect time of the season.

”I think we realized what was going on and we had to start winning,” Whitney said. “It’s good for a team like us. As long as get in this weekend, it’s like we’ve been playing playoff hockey for a couple of weeks now. Other teams have to turn it on, where we’ll just continue to keep going. Nothing will change too much for us.”

Said Chris Pronger, “I think at the end of the day you want to go into the playoffs playing your best hockey. Right now, we feel like we are. We still have to win a game here to get in. We feel like we’re peaking at the right time. It’s just a matter of continuing to push ourselves and making sure we’re running on all cylinders."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 66 42 17 7 196 179 91
2 NSH 66 41 18 7 196 162 89
3 STL 64 40 19 5 198 162 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 MIN 64 35 22 7 181 164 77
6 VAN 64 36 24 4 184 176 76
7 WPG 65 32 21 12 180 175 76
8 CGY 64 35 25 4 182 165 74
9 LAK 63 30 21 12 171 164 72
10 SJS 65 32 25 8 185 183 72
11 DAL 65 29 26 10 203 215 68
12 COL 64 28 25 11 170 183 67
13 ARI 65 21 37 7 142 220 49
14 EDM 64 18 36 10 145 213 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 63 20 41 13 61
C. Perry 51 27 18 15 45
R. Kesler 66 17 24 1 41
S. Vatanen 57 12 22 6 34
M. Beleskey 56 21 9 13 30
J. Silfverberg 65 10 20 11 30
H. Lindholm 63 6 23 20 29
P. Maroon 58 7 21 -4 28
C. Fowler 65 6 22 3 28
R. Rakell 55 6 19 5 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 30 8 5 .917 2.34
J. Gibson 9 5 0 .924 2.41


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