Will the Ducks Stick together?
As the regular season comes to an end for the Anaheim Ducks, the last few games may not mean much to them, as they are in last place in the West. It certainly means a lot to the St. Louis Blues who are only three points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes and need 6 points to secure a playoff spot. This season the Ducks have struggled to find any kind of consistency when it comes to having winning streaks or even winning at all.
Facing the West teams all season, the Ducks look discouraged getting beat down constantly from all of them, especially the top-ranked teams such as the Las Vegas Knights and the Colorado Avalanche. Can the Ducks sabotage the Blues’ chances of making it into the playoffs? Or will they prove to show why they are ranked last in the West? Will the Ducks fly together and be the fly in the ointment?
Anaheim Shines against the Blues
The Blues have met with the Ducks six times so far this season and have come out victorious four of those six times going 4-1-1. The last two games however were stolen from the Blues. In the first games a 4-1 win for Anaheim. Ducks Goalie John Gibson came back after a six-game break from an injury and caught fire against the Blues. Gibson stopped 33 of 34 shots and stymied the Blues offense. After the game, Anaheim announced that Gibson had suffered another injury and wouldn’t return for the next game.
The Ducks would bring in taxi squad and backup goalie, Anthony Stolarz. Normal Back up Ryan Miller was out with an injury. Stolarz would also prove to outlast the Blues after staking them to a 2-0 lead. Goals from Cam Fowler and Adam Henrique along with 26 saves from Stolarz forced overtime. Josh Manson took the only shot in the overtime and it was off a pass from Stolarz who not only got the win but an assist.
Goalie Miller officially retired, this leaves Stolarz to take the stage against the Blues. Stolarz who is the goalie of the future could start both games in St. Louis. I believe this will give the Ducks not only the best chance against Blues but also test if Stolarz can be consistent against teams like St. Louis. John Gibson has been the main starter for the Ducks this season, but since it’s the end of the season with no chance at the playoffs this will be a great opportunity for Stolarz to shine.
With Coyotes lurking and hungry for that fourth spot, they have a fairly easy regular season ahead of them. Both Los Angles and Arizona could finish the season with 59 points, but they face each other in the first two of their last four games. One team will be eliminated from the playoffs on Monday night. The team that gets the early tee time, has the opportunity to return the favor on Wednesday night.
The Coyotes will finish their regular season against the Sharks on Friday and Saturday. Arizona recently showed Las Vegas they can not only shut them out but put up goals against them. The Coyotes were down 2-0 to the Knights before coming back to force overtime. The overtime loss to Vegas forces Arizona to win every game and makes them hungry for points.
This should make Blues fans a little nervous
While the Blues face off against the Ducks for the next two games, Anaheim has a two-game winning streak against the Blues and could play spoiler. The Blues took 5 out of 6 points from the surging Minnesota Wild but gave up two 3-1 third-period leads.
After facing Anaheim the Blues will travel to Vegas for two games in a potential first-round playoff matchup. The Knights are in a rough and tough battle for the division. The Colorado Avalanche are just 4 points behind with one game in hand that just happens to be against the Knight on Monday, May 10th.
The Blues finish off the regular season playing the Kings once and then back again to the challenging Minnesota Wild for the final two games of the regular season. The Blues may need to win anywhere from none to all three to make the Playoffs.
The Blues need to have a strong finish in these final series, take it game by game, and try to not overthink. The coming games against the Ducks will shape just how important the remaining games will be. Win them both and the final five could be meaningless. Lose them and your playoff life could hinder on you beating two of the top three teams in the division anywhere from one to four times.
The Blues enter the series against the Ducks on a five-game point streak and have beaten both Colorado and Minnesota twice. Winning games down the stretch is how the Blues set themselves up for the Cup run in 19. Focus on not making the same mistakes that they have in the past.
Going into the series against the young Ducks the Blues need to not underestimate the young new guys such as Trevor Zegras, and Jamie Drysdale who have been making great offensive movements and creating opportunities for goals. The Ducks are a young team that has a lot of spirit and energy. they don’t plan on giving the Blues an easy run at a win against them. With nothing to lose could Anaheim be kryptonite for the Blues? Will the Blues prove to the West that they are a top-four contender and deserve a seat at the playoffs table.
The Bottom Line, win and you are in. The Blues just have to take care of business on the Ice and they will be meeting a familiar foe in the first of a seven-game series in the middle of May. Don’t and you will be joining both the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks on the golf course for the second time in the last three years and just the second time in league history.