The Anaheim Ducks are a league-leading 26-9-6 following Sunday’s 4-3 shootout win over Nashville. That’s an overwhelming record, but they haven’t been an overwhelming team.
For all the success they’ve had, the Ducks only have a plus-five goal differential so far this season, which puts them just below two teams that are trying to claw their way into the playoffs in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets.
The cause for the Ducks discrepancy is their record in one-goal games this season. Anaheim is 20-0-6, which means that roughly 77% of its wins have come by the narrowest of margins. The Ducks are also the only team in the league to not have a regulation time one-goal loss thus far.
“Right now that’s what we’re getting,” Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said, per the team’s website. “We’ll take those two points, especially when we play teams like this. The last couple of games have been really hard games against St. Louis and Nashville. They’re two really good teams. Those are points we need right now.”
Certainly the Ducks will take points however they can get them, but what does this say about the team? Are they clutch performers because they’re able to step up when they need to the most or is their record not an accurate reflection of their performance because they haven’t been nearly as dominant as their points total suggests?
“Good teams know how to win those one-goal games,” Ryan Kesler asserted. “That’s how they are in the playoffs. Playoffs are one-goal games. If we know how to win them now, it’s going to make it that much easier in the playoffs.”
Perhaps, but one doesn’t always lead to the other. The 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings were a sub-.500 team in one-goal games during the regular season while Colorado, Anaheim, St. Louis, and San Jose led the pack and with the exception of the Ducks, were all eliminated in the first round. Which of course ties into the fact that we saw the Ducks succeed through similar means in the 2013-14 campaign before ultimately falling short against the Kings.
Still, even if the Ducks can’t eliminate skepticism with the manner in which they win, what they are doing is buying another chance to prove themselves in the playoffs because at the end of the day that will be what they’re judged on.