They only needed one point to clinch a playoff berth. Considering that the Ducks missed the postseason altogether last year, you would think they would be motivated to get that little x by their name and move on.
Trying to clinch that playoff berth against the Colorado Avalanche, the last place team in the NHL? Not nearly as easy as it looked on paper.
Helps when you have a secret weapon in Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The former Anaheim netminder did not steal a game for the Avs in the traditional sense. His 21 saves were relatively pedestrian. Instead he motivated the crap out of his teammates.
Giguere, reasonably upset at a poor performance by his teammates against the Calgary Flames a few nights prior, was brutally honest with his opinions and thoughts after that game.
"Some guys are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the games, than playing every minute of the games. Quite frankly, I don’t care about your Vegas trip right now.”
That was just the highlight quote and most repeated.
“We have to find a way to get out of this losing mentality, you know? It starts with me and the guy beside me and everyone has to do their part. It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed to be here right now. It’s not even funny. I mean, this is a team (Calgary) that we can beat if we set our minds to it, and every day is the same story. I don’t know what to say. I’m beyond words right now.”
Giguere did not really seem beyond words and guess what? Colorado set their minds on beating the next team they played.
Good for Colorado. Bad for Anaheim.
''I'm pleased,'' Giguere said after defeating Anaheim 4-1. ''Obviously I was worried a little bit how they were going to take it. You hope they're going to take it professionally and find a way to respond, and truthfully, I'm looking for a response in the last nine games of the season, not one game. That's what we're looking for, and this was a good start for us.''
In a strange reversal of fortune, Anaheim ended up looking the way Colorado has been playing of late and Colorado looked more like a playoff contender.
Then again, as coach Bruce Boudreau pointed out, "When we stink, we stink. We stunk. That team was ready to play and we thought we knew they were ready to play. We had no push back for them today.”
Boy were they ready. Colorado scored at 1:04 into the game with a goal from John Mitchell. Adding a short handed goal from Gabriel Landeskog at 4:07 of the second period threw salt into the wound. Add a goal from Matt Duchene at 7:54 and the final tally from Jamie McGinn at 17:30 and that was it for Anaheim.
Teemu Selanne was the only one who could score for the Ducks, with his umpteenth career goal at 11:16 of the middle period. It was as easy a tip in as he could have, thanks to a great shot from Kyle Palmieri.
The rest of the game was nothing to write home about and Viktor Fasth replaced Jonas Hiller in net for the third period of the game.
The Ducks now get two glorious days off (something they haven't had in over a month) which will be spent practicing, especially on the power play (which had a whopping three shots on goal in three attempts and allowed in a short handed goal.)
"You can learn stuff from everything,” said Boudreau. "I want them to see their mistakes so we don’t make them anymore. I want them to be accountable. I want them to understand what they did wrong and where we made our mistakes, and not to do them again, hopefully, for any time soon.”
They have plenty of time to atone and repent from their sins before they meet up with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday for the final time this season.
Maybe then they can finally clinch that playoff spot?
In other notes: Cam Fowler left the game in the first period with an upper body injury and did not return. He did not practice with the team on Thursday and is listed as day to day.