Back on October 2nd, the Anaheim Ducks started out on a journey that is still far from over. The goal of that journey was a simple one. Over the course of an 82 game schedule where they would face every single team in the NHL, win enough games to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And with Dallas losing tonight, that goal was finally realized, and the Ducks still have 11 games left to fine tune things before the playoffs get underway.
A year ago the Ducks were the surprising winners of the Pacific Division. This year they came into the season as one the favorites, and other than a recent rough patch, they haven't disappointed. Earlier this season they won 10 games in a row and at one point had 18 wins in a 19 game stretch. The Ducks are on pace to best the team records set back during the 06-07 season when the Ducks won their only Stanley Cup. To say that the team has high expectations this season would be accurate. While there have been bad games during the season (the recent loss to Calgary and the opening game of the season in Colorado), overall this has been a very good season for the Ducks and their fans.
With 11 games, the Ducks have a chance to retake the Pacific Division, and, if they play well enough, the West as well. The focus all season long has been about making the playoffs. Now that the goal has been attained, it's time for the team to refocus and regroup and set their sites on passing the Sharks and winning the Pacific Division this season. The higher the Ducks finish in the standings the more likely they are to get home ice advantage in later rounds of the playoffs, if they make it that far.
The Ducks have gotten to this point because of a variety of contributors. The Ducks top pair of Getzlaf and Perry have been absolutely lethal all season long. The depth scoring has been fantastic. The defense has been much stronger than it looked on paper, led by the currently injured Cam Fowler. And the goaltending has been solid, rarely stealing a win for the Ducks, but losing a game even less. All in all, the Ducks have been getting contributions from throughout their lineup. From the stars to the grinders to the rookies to the AHL call-ups. When the regular season is over I'll go into depth and detail about how everyone contributed. But for now, it's time for Ducks fans to celebrate the Ducks going into the playoffs!