The Ducks finished the month of January with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the only time this season (barring them meeting in the playoffs) that the Flyers will come to the Pond. The Ducks played 14 games this month and won 11 games. Overall, the Ducks had an 11-3 record for 22 points. While they didn't have the record breaking month that was December, the Ducks still played very well in January, although the Ducks did lose their 1st 2 games in regulation on home ice this month. As with the first few months of the season, I'll go through the highs and the lows for the Ducks over the month of January.
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The worst game for the Ducks in January was the 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. While the Ducks had lost to the Jets on home ice earlier in the month, against Minnesota the Ducks were just off and did not play well. The Ducks were sloppy in all 3 zones and Hiller didn't have a strong outing. Despite their poor play, the Ducks still had a chance to win this game, but they just weren't able to execute throughout the contest and let the 2 points slip away.
The best game of December for the Ducks was the game at Dodger Stadium where the Ducks defeated the Kings 3-0. While it wasn't the best played game (although it was very good competition for an outdoor game), it was a statement game from the Ducks. They shut out their cross town rivals in the biggest matchup between these 2 teams since the rivalry began back in 93. Over 54,000 fans were in attendance and the majority (I've heard estimates of around 60%) were Kings fans, and the Ducks never let the Kings or their fans get into the game. It was a great night for the Ducks, and Hiller was phenomenal in net.
The biggest surprise for the Ducks this month was their winning streak. Including the final game of December, the Ducks won 8 games in a row before losing in Chicago. Prior to this season, the Ducks longest winning streak was 7 games, which they matched in the 1st month of the season, and then they obliterated that in December with a 10 game winning streak. 2 lengthy winning streaks in the same season is pretty impressive, but the Ducks decided to do it again, this time they won 8 in a row, 7 of those coming in January. Following the 10 game winning streak I expected the Ducks to keep winning, but not at such an absurd clip. At one point the Ducks had won 18 of their previous 19 games, a feat matched by only 1 other team in NHL history (one the Montreal dynasty teams, pretty good company for the Ducks to be in).
The biggest worry for the Ducks over the last month was that towards the end of January the Ducks went into a bit of a slump. In a 3 game home stretch, they lost 2 games, their only regulation home losses all season. And while they played well against Winnipeg and ran into a hot goaltender, they did not play well against Minnesota and cannot afford to take games off like that as the playoffs get underway.
The Ducks had the potential to get 28 points in the month of January and managed to get 22 of them. January was another great month for the Ducks, and at this point in time have an 11 point lead over the 2nd place San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division and have to be considered the heavy favorite to win the division. The Ducks are setting themselves up very nicely for the playoffs, and are going to need to keep winning games in dominant fashion as the regular season winds down. They can't afford to let up and take games off if they want to do well come playoff time.
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