No doubt about it – winning feels much better than losing. The Ducks have won three in a row and six of their last seven games. Who would have thought it possible just a few short weeks ago when they were mired in despair?
Well, the sun has come out and things look much cheerier now. Until you look at the standings and remind yourself that no, this team is still lingering at the bottom of the heap. But miracles have happened before. Parting of the Red Sea comes to mind, because that is the level of epicness it would take for the Ducks to keep winning and get into the playoffs.
One game at a time….
The Ducks continued their offense against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night at home. After a gross inability to find the back of the net, the puck has apparently acquired laser vision accuracy and jumped in willingly for 31 times in the past seven games. Technically in six games, because one of them was a 1-0 loss to Calgary in overtime.
It is not the usual suspects scoring goals, either. As it was in the Vancouver game on Sunday, the third line shone again. Jason Blake, Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano are clicking, which is a very good thing for Anaheim.
“I think they were probably are best line,” said Francois Beauchemin, who had two goals in the 6-2 victory over the Coyotes. “They were really hard on their team. They did the little things to create stuff offensively. I think that’s just the key to it.”
Even though Phoenix got the first goal, a rebound finished off by former Duck Kyle Chipchura at 8:33 of the first period, the Ducks stuck to their game plan.
Niklas Hagman redirected Lubomir Visnovsky’s shot at 13:49 to tie up the game. Beauchemin got his first of the game at 15:43 on the power play to give the Ducks their first lead. The puck was shot by Visnovsky, who ping ponged it off of Blake’s knee and right to Beauchemin, who finished it off. Hard way to get an assist, but Blake was happy to have the pain.
Jonas Hiller yielded a goal to Daymond Langkow at 9:32 of the second period to tie up the game once more. Hiller did not let any more get past him and went on to make 25 saves for the win.
Beauchemin took the lead back once and for all at 14:51, tipping in Cogliano’s shot.
The third line continued to do their damage with Blake getting a goal at 18:54 to extend the lead.
“They are just so fast,” Bonino said of Blake and Cogliano. “My game is to move the puck and play down low. With those two guys, if I get them the puck in open ice they are going to get in the zone and make plays. They are so quick on the puck, hounding the other team in the neutral zone and the offensive zone, and create turnovers.”
A goal from Matt Beleskey at 3:09 of the third period earned fans another set of free wings at Hooters. Fans have been going there a lot lately.
The final piece de resistance was a short handed goal from Corey Perry at 16:23 to make it 6-2. Game long since clearly over.
The Ducks are undoubtedly a different team. Something that is getting a bit of notice by their opponents, who at one point saw “Anaheim Ducks” on the schedule and figured “easy win.”
“They seemed to be into it a lot more,” said Langkow. “They just kept coming at us. I don’t think they outplayed us a ton but they got chances and they capitalized.”
Cogliano had a different perspective.
“I think we’ve matured as the season has gone on here,” Cogliano said. “In the beginning of the season when teams would score, you could see things bad happening right after. And now, with guys scoring and just us playing better defensively all around, you can tell that we’re more confident. I think that’s the main thing. Confidence is in play.”
The Ducks can now take their confident selves on a two day break that includes their annual Casino Night on Thursday evening. They next face an unusual back to back at home with a game against Ottawa on Saturday and then Colorado on Sunday.
With any luck, they will continue scoring, but more importantly, winning.