The Anaheim Ducks completed their 5 game homestand with a perfect 5-0 record and a 7 game winning streak. They are currently 7-1, the only loss being to Colorado in their home opener. While this is their best start in franchise history, the hunt for the playoffs is far from over. Tomorrow, the Ducks will embark on a 8 game road trip, their longest this season.
When the schedule was released and I saw that the Ducks had an 8 game road trip, I instantly knew that this could spell disaster for the Ducks early in the season. Simply put, a poor 8 game road trip can break a team's season (I'm looking at you Rangers). However, because of the Ducks torrid start (I'll be honest, I did not expect this team to be 7-1 at this point of the season and the only loss to be to Colorado), this 8 game road trip no longer looks as daunting. Even if they only get 2 wins out of 8 games, the Ducks will still have a record above .500. But that is no reason for the Ducks to rest or take games off. They have a real opportunity to prove that they are back to being one of the dominant teams of the NHL. They can prove that this fast start wasn't just a flash in the pan. They can prove that they belong at the top of the standings.
It won't be easy, none of these 8 games are against a weak opponent (I stopped believing in a weak team in the NHL years ago, anyone can win on any night), but this team is good enough to keep winning. Their goaltending has been great, their offense has been dangerous and balanced, and their defense has been limiting opponents opportunities. That being said, if the Ducks are going to be successful, their special teams have to improve. Scoring 2 powerplay goals against Dallas was a good start, but the Ducks have only 3 pp goals on the season, but their overall percentage has climbed up to 9.4% and is now ranked 28th in the league. While still absolutely abysmal, it is a step in the right direction. The penalty kill has climbed to 78.6% and is 22nd in the league. This is a penalty kill that only let in 1 goal during a 5 game home stretch. Which means that the Ducks pk was just god awful in the 1st 3 road games of the season. At home, the Ducks can kill penalties, now they have to show that they can do it on the road.
The Ducks are going to open this road trip in Toronto tomorrow at 4 PM. It will continue on Thursday in Montreal, Friday in Ottawa, the 27th in Columbus, the 29th in Philadelphia, the 31st in Boston, Nov. 2ndin Buffalo, and finally finishing up on Nov. 6th in New York against the Rangers. That's a long trip against a lot of good teams. Both Toronto and Boston are a top 3 team in the Atlantic, Montreal is off to a strong start, the Ducks never seem to play well against Columbus, both the Rangers and Senators will be looking for revenge for early season losses to the Ducks, and Buffalo and Philadelphia are playing absolutely terrible hockey right now, so they will probably play their best games of the season against the Ducks and put up a tremendous fight. The Ducks are a good enough team to win every single game, but they won't. But as long as they give a strong effort every night and don't fold, they are going to come back from this long trip with a good number of points.