Wednesday night in Anaheim marked yet another divisional victory for Bruce Boudreau’s men over the beleaguered Calgary Flames, who have tumultuously fallen out of the playoff picture. Anaheim has feasted on the Pacific Division as a whole, amassing 25 points in 18 games at press time. Collecting an average of 1.39 points per game against divisional foes is a huge boost for any team, and even more so for the Ducks who compete in the cut-throat Western Conference.
When asked about consistently beating divisional opponents, Boudreau offered: “Well I mean, for the most part, you got to beat your divisional foes if you want to advance. For the most part, you got to beat your division, and we take pride when we play our division. I think we know them better than we know other teams. It makes for a better match, and we take pride in that.”
The only thorn in the Ducks’ side this season has been the San Jose Sharks, who always seem to get the best of Anaheim. That barely seems to matter at this point though, as the Sharks find themselves in a heated race to even make the playoffs. They’re facing injuries to key players such as Tommy Wingels.
The Kings and Sharks, Anaheim’s traditional foes, are experiencing their fair share of woes, leaving the Ducks all alone at the top of the Pacific. They’ve won an inordinate amount of one-goal games in the process, and their underlying numbers are hardly the stuff of legend.
In their ascent to the top of the NHL, the Ducks have proven that for all the importance of possession and shots on net, there’s something greater to be said for winning close games. It’s hard to call them lucky, as they sit near the middle of the league in even strength shooting percentage.
With the score close, a situation that Boudreau’s squad often finds itself in, the Ducks sport a decent possession rating of 52.1 percent, further indicating that their incredible streak of tight victories is no fluke. There remains a ton of hockey to be played this season, but the Ducks are clearly taking care of business in their neighborhood.