Ducks need to win often on road trip to stay playoff relevant

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 05: John Gibson (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 05: John Gibson (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks look to build on a successful 3 game homestand as they embark on a tough six-game road trip with stops in St.Louis, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh.

The Ducks notched 5 out of a possible 6 points at Honda Center with wins against the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes and an overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild.

The return of Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and right winger Jakob Silfverberg to the lineup against Carolina this past Monday was sorely needed. Their arrival comes at a significant time as the team travels eastward.

The Ducks are currently 5th in the Pacific Division, 2 points behind the 3rd place San Jose Sharks In the Pacific Division. They are also 2 points out of the final wild card spot behind the Minnesota Wild. The Ducks need all the points they can get on this trip to keep pace with the pack of teams with them until the club gets fully healthy. Ryan Kesler is expected back by Christmas time with Hampus Lindholm, Corey Perry, and others to follow suit.

Amidst all the injuries endured throughout this young season, the Ducks have stayed afloat in the Western Conference playoff picture. However, they need to start winning games to move up in the standings. Moreover, they need to start winning consistently and consecutively. They haven’t put together consecutive victories since Nov. 19 and 20 where they won by a score of 3-2 against Florida at home and San Jose on the road.

Stringing together a couple of road wins would serve the Ducks well to make sure they do not fall out of the playoff picture. Obviously, 2 standings points for a win is better than 1 point for an overtime or shootout loss.

The Ducks do not want to replicate what happened on their last six game road trip where they held leads in games against Los Angeles, Columbus, Nashville, and Vegas – only to fall in a shootout in 3 of them (the exception was a regulation loss against Columbus). The Ducks simply gave up valuable points in those losses.

It is important that the Ducks learn from their mistakes from their previous road trip, and close out these close games against the teams they will face on this trip should they be tied or in the lead.

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Initially, the trip looks daunting: facing Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues, the ascending Washington Capitals, the offensive-minded New York Islanders and Rangers, the surprising New Jersey Devils, and the defending Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the flip side, this trip is a major opportunity for the Ducks to show they are not to be taken lightly. They are nowhere near full health with a different player seemingly getting injured every game, but they do have the pieces to stay with teams.

Young players Ondrej Kase and San Diego callup Kevin Roy have made an offensive impact with their speed and playmaking abilities. The likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique combined with goaltending tandem John Gibson and Ryan Miller must all do their fair share to ensure the Ducks remain competitive.

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If the Ducks want to make the postseason, the push to win and win often comes now.  There is no wait. Time is running out. Over a third of the season is over. Despite their struggles in overtime and the shootout, they need to make sure this trip counts and grab those 2 points each and every night.