League-best Ducks flying high thanks to many contributors

League-best Ducks flying high thanks to many contributors
January 17, 2014, 3:00 pm
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The Anaheim Ducks’ latest successful run started innocently enough here on Dec. 6, when they once again edged the Chicago Blackhawks. Up to that point they were already doing pretty well. Now, they’re doing great.

Since that last visit to Chicago the Ducks have gone 18-1-0. It’s a tremendous run, one that runs similar to the Blackhawks’ gallop out of the box to start the 2012-13 season. And it’s a run that’s got the Ducks sitting atop the Western Conference standings.

The Ducks’ secrets to success really aren’t so secret: They’ve done it with all players contributing, good goaltending and depth. That formula works for a lot of the great squads; it certainly worked for the Blackhawks last season and hasn’t hurt them this one, either. Players said it’s been a full-team effort all season, but especially during this run.

“You can look at a lot of things,” defenseman Cam Fowler said. “First, our goaltending. It’s been able to win us a lot of games during this streak. And we’ve had a lot of guys contributing. We don’t just rely on (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry. We’ve had some secondary scoring that’s been key for us, and I think that’s why we’re in the position we’re in.”

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Despite their run and the fanfare that’s come with it, the Ducks have stayed even keel. Basically, they haven’t had time to revel in it.

“It’s pretty neat it’s happened. But you play so many games in a row you don’t have time to sit back and enjoy it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re glad with where it’s gotten us. It’s pulled us away from the eighth-place team. It’s given us breathing room, and that’s the main thing.”

Looking at the Ducks’ recent streak you see they’ve won in a lot of different ways. They’ve won the close overtime/shootout games, as they did against Chicago, New Jersey and Phoenix. They’ve won the lopsided contests, as they did in that 9-1 stunner against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. And they haven’t allowed the opposition a ton, either; the Ducks gave up two or fewer goals in 13 of their last 19 games.

Obviously the Ducks are feeling pretty good, and they feel better with every “W.”

“The longer you go on streaks like this, the more confidence you get,” said center Nick Bonino, who has 10 points in his last eight games. “It’s kind of feeling you can’t lose; that no matter what, you’re still in the game.”

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Where the Ducks might have improved most, however, is depth. Know how the Blackhawks always talk of secondary scoring? The Ducks are getting that, and that’s taken the pressure of the stars’ need to be go-to every night.

“The scoring we’re getting has been big,” Fowler said. “You look at guys like (Andrew) Cogliano, who’s having a great year, Bonino, guys who have tried to find their way as goal-scorers have come into their own this year. That gives the whole team confidence and pushes you through those games you need it.”

The Ducks are finding a lot of success lately, and they’re playing a team they’ve bested more often than not recently. Still, they will not rest on their laurels against the Blackhawks tonight. Boudreau said the Ducks cannot get caught up in the hoopla of what they’ve done thus far. There’s still too much to do.

“In our last 48 hours, 72 hours, we’ve gotten a lot of praise from people in the media. If we think we’re going to throw our jerseys out there and Chicago’s going to turn a blind eye, we’re in for a rude awakening,” he said. “I’m not looking forward to playing them. But it should be a good game.”