The Anaheim Ducks are discovering the same thing that the New Jersey Devils did last season: recovering from a terrible first half of the season requires nothing less than near perfect play. The Ducks have come a long way after falling to 10-22-6 with a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 4. However, they still have almost no room for error if they want to make the playoffs and that means that they can’t afford to lose a third straight game when they play the Calgary Flames on Friday.
One Ducks player to keep an eye on is Ryan Getzlaf, who is having one of the worst seasons of his distinguished career. After getting 76 points in 67 games in 2010-11, he is down to 43 points in 64 contests this season. Just as noteworthy is the fact that he hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 22 and that he has just two goals in his last 38 contests. A big March out of Getzlaf would go a long way towards helping Anaheim defy the odds and make the playoffs.
For the Flames, this game is equally critical. Although they managed to snap their four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, they are still two points shy of the eighth place Dallas Stars. More importantly, the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche are a point ahead of Calgary, meaning that they’ll have to leapfrog several teams in the final weeks of the season to make the playoffs.
Flames GM Jay Feaster has a lot riding on his team’s success, as he chose to stay quiet at the trade deadline in the hope that they his aging core of players might be able to find a way to squeeze into the playoffs. Although this isn’t the last hurrah for 34-year-old Jarome Iginla and 35-year-old Miikka Kiprusoff, it’s fair to say that the Flames won’t have them to lean on for many more seasons. If they want to justify continuing to hold onto them rather than trading away their superstars while they still have value, then they need to show some evidence that they can make another push for the Stanley Cup before Iginla and Kiprusoff hang up their skates.