Anaheim Ducks : 35-26-5 – 75 points – 4-5-1 in the last 10
The Ducks have struggled through a season of inconsistency after limping out of the gates with a 4-8 record in October. While they are currently tied for ninth place in the tightly contested Western Conference at 75 points, they will finish fifth in the Pacific.
With All-Star Jonas Hiller out since the 4-0 shutout against Edmonton in early February, the Ducks traded for Dan Ellis with mixed results. For this team to make any kind of run, Hiller must return from his vertigo-like symptoms. Although he has skated as late as Saturday night, Hiller’s status has not changed, and his timetable for a return is still undetermined.
The Ducks recalled Ray Emery from the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, just two days after he was sent down by Anaheim. Emery is 4-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage in the AHL.
The moves at the deadline have shored up their defense with the addition of Francois Beauchemin, who bumped Andreas Lilja to the third pairing. Lilja has struggled to do much of anything after being brought aboard as a free agent and is a consistent liability in his own zone.
The Ducks are near the bottom of the league in shots against, and their penalty kill is ranked 25th with a 79.8 percentage. Their team has traditionally been strong down the middle and in the faceoff circle but have suffered this year.
Operating at just a 47.5 percentage, ranking them 27th in the league does not bode well for the type of game the Ducks employ. The Ducks have been double-digit negatives in goal differential all year and currently sit at -11.
Still powered by the top line, the Ducks are big and physical and play a power game in the speed-based game of the Western Conference. The Ducks depth has been showing recently, which is an improvement but not enough to climb the Pacific ranks.
They have enjoyed some big contributions from their third line of Todd Marchant (C), Jarko Ruutu (LW) and Den Sexton (RW) of late, making Maxim Lapierre expendable at the deadline.
After two very big victories in which the Ducks overcame third-period deficits to win in overtime, the Ducks got blanked in a crucial showdown against the Canucks Sunday.
With eight of their 16 games remaining, the Ducks will have to treat every game as a must-win to make the playoffs in the West. The team has done well at home with a 20-11-2 record even with an overall lack of home ice advantage.
They face some serious challenges on the road for the remainder of March, with the Kings, Stars, Blackhawks and Flames ahead. All of which have been hot recently and figure to take every game as seriously as the Ducks will. With a 15-15-3 record on the road, the Ducks will have to get their house in order to make a run.