With an 11-point lead in the Pacific Division, Anaheim is all but assured of opening the playoffs against one of the Western Conference’s two wild card teams.
One of those could very well be the Calgary Flames, who the Ducks will face tonight at the Saddledome.
“This could be a potential playoff matchup and you always want to play good against teams you think you could possibly play in the playoffs,”Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano explained, per NHL.com. “It’ll be a good game. We’ve had great games against them so far this year, especially in this building. We expect nothing else.”
Tonight’s game is big for both teams. Anaheim is looking to snap a two-game losing streak and bust out of its offensive slump, having scored just three goals over the losing skid. The Ducks are also looking to figure out their anemic power play, which has converted just once over the last 13 games.
The Flames, meanwhile, are fighting for their playoff lives.
Last night saw the Kings draw even on 77 points with a 5-2 win over Colorado, meaning Calgary’s hold on a postseason berth is now reliant on the ROW tiebreaker (Calgary leads L.A. 32 to 30.) A regulation loss tonight would see the Flames actually fall out of the playoff picture — the Kings would take the lead on superior points percentage — and the team knows it’s in tough given it has lost three straight to the Ducks, the last two by identical 6-3 scorelines.
“[Anaheim’s] definitely one of the best hockey clubs in the league,” Flames bench boss Bob Hartley explained. “You try to find weaknesses on that team, you better wake up early in the morning.”
The Flames will catch a break tonight, as the anticipated returns of forward Matt Beleskey and d-man Sami Vatanen have been delayed. Both are traveling with the Ducks for this Western road swing and were thought to be in the mix to return this evening, but it looks as though Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau will delay those returns until at least Friday, when his team plays in Minnesota.