Anaheim Ducks Give Away Game to Montreal Canadiens in Final Minutes

SKCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 03:  Jason Blake (L) #33 of the Anaheim Ducks is congratulated by Bobby Ryan #9 after scoring a goal in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Honda Center on March 3, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Ducks have been trending lately, and I'm not talking about Twitter.

Unfortunately, the trend they're currently riding has them 0-2-1 in their last three games during this crucial playoff push.

With 17 games remaining and the Ducks still sitting firmly OUT of playoff positioning, they have no time to waste, yet they're throwing away solid opportunities.

The most upsetting thing about the recent losing streak is the way they have gone about it.

Aside from the 4-0 smashing that the Phoenix Coyotes laid on Anaheim Saturday night, the Ducks have had the pleasure of letting leads and potential wins slip between their fingers. Not just games that could swing in either direction—games where the Ducks have outplayed their opponent to start but that they have handed away in the final period.

Most recently, with new players injected into the lineup, the Ducks found a way to let a 3-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens dissolve in the final minutes on Sunday evening.

It's hard to imagine that the Ducks will have the post-deadline luck they achieved last season. As the season is near the end, I wonder: Are 17 games enough for the Ducks to find a spot in the playoffs, or will they run out of time?

It is necessary for the Ducks to find a level of consistency and stick with it. The Ducks need to focus on winning hockey games 20 minutes at a time. Having one good period means nothing if they are unable to finish a game riding that same momentum.

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For the first time this season, the Ducks defense is starting to show signs of life thanks to their newly acquired blueliners.

Lubomir Visnovsky showed fans why he's a puck mover on Sunday night when he weaved his way through Montreal defenders to put the puck past Carey Price and put the Ducks up 2-0. Aaron Ward put his body into the line of fire on several occasions to block shots, but the desire to impress new teammates wasn't enough for a much-needed two points.  

I find it hard to believe that the Ducks are okay with allowing the season to conclude in this manner. I don't doubt that they will find the means with which to win games consistently, but they are going to require a lot from their big name players in order to do so.  

It starts with Jonas Hiller.  

Hiller is going to need to find that end of the season momentum if he plans on helping the team remain confident through the final stretch. It is my firm belief that Hiller's phenomenal run to the postseason in 2009 was very influential in his new contract, and there is no time like the present to live up to the No. 1 goaltender name.  

The big boys of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan are going to need to start playing like...BIG BOYS! I am always demanding more from these guys because I know they can deliver. Getzlaf and Perry can be completely dominating when they want to be.

Getzlaf has the power, the size, the strength, and the skill to shut opponents down and to make his own teammates look like superstars. But for some reason, we're not seeing that from him right now.  

When Perry is on his game, you know it by the number of goalie interference penalties he's taken during the first period alone. Where is the pest? Where is the guy that other teams hate to play against because he gets under your skin and into your goal crease? I'd like that player to hang around the front of the net for the next 17 games, and then we can talk.

As for Ryan, now is the time to shake off the expectations you put on yourself and get out there and play like the superstar we know you are. Sunday's missed empty netter tells me he isn't focused.  

But it's not just the big names we need to see more from. The power play, the penalty kill, and even strength situations all need to be solid. Excuses are unacceptable this late in the game. This isn't October. There is no time to waste on poor efforts and lazy execution.  

This team is not out of the playoff hunt yet—and for the thousandth time, it would be great if they played like they want to be there.

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