Well, yesterday’s results certainly could have been better. Vancouver, Dallas, and San Jose all gained 2 points on the Ducks, and somehow the Wild managed 1 point without even scoring a goal. Again, Anaheim finds itself with all four of these teams sitting within 2 points of its precious 2nd-seed, and plays the only game in the west today to try to pad that cushion.
A quick glance at Anaheim’s remaining schedule shows that even though 5 of the last 6 games are on the road, 4 of those road games are against golf-buddies Chicago, Columbus x2, and St. Louis (plus one extra home game vs. the Sharks and one extra road game vs. the Stars). Sounds like a manageable season-end, right? Beat the bottom-feeders from the Central, and maybe split the matches against the playoff-bound Pacific, right?
But the Ducks, for about as long as I have followed them, have a weird pattern of playing well against better teams and then pissing away points against more beatable opposition (Phoenix excluded). For example, here’s how they’ve fared this year against the remaining competition:
vs. CBJ/CHI/STL: 4-2-2, .625 W%, 3.4 GF, 3.0 GA
vs. DAL/SJS: 9-4-1, .679 W%, 3.4 GF, 2.1 GA
Compare this to how the other 7 western playoff teams have performed:
vs. CBJ/CHI/STL: 68-20-10, .745 W%, 3.2 GF, 2.1 GA
vs. DAL/SJS: 25-23-4, .519 W%, 2.2 GF, 2.4 GA
The lesson? The Ducks have had an easier time beating the Sharks and Stars this season than the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, and Blues, and if they intend on starting the playoffs at home, they had better get serious about reminding the latter set of teams why they are not going to be playing mid-April (hint: they’re beatable).
If there’s any bright side, though (as I noted in an email to PJ yesterday), the more the Ducks lose and the more the Sharks win, the bigger the April 4th game in Anaheim is going to be.
Prediction: Ducks 5, Hawks 2. Goals by Pahlsson (only 1 goal so far in 2007), Thornton (1 goal in 2007), Marchant (0 goals in 2007), May (0 goals in 2007, his last assist came