Jan 16, 2012, 9:25 AM EDT
The Ducks might be wishing that GM Bob Murray put everyone on notice a lot sooner than he did.
Anaheim fired Randy Carlyle and brought in Bruce Boudreau to try and change things around but it took the threat of housecleaning via trade to get the Ducks to snap out of their season-long funk. The Ducks are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have looked a lot more like the team many thought they’d be at the start of the year.
Jonas Hiller is healthy and playing strong in goal while the Ducks’ top players in Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf have caught up to how well Teemu Selanne has played all year. Even Selanne’s Finnish countryman Saku Koivu is showing up more on the score sheet.
The guy that has really made the difference of late though? Jason Blake. Since returning on January 4 from injury, Blake has three goals and three assists and has given the Ducks a healthy amount of balance in their lines. Blake’s return to action gives Anaheim three balanced lines to work with, something they struggled doing for most of the season.
The problem for Anaheim is that they’re in the Western Conference and that means life is harder trying to get back into the playoff picture. As of this morning, they’re 14 points back of eighth place Minnesota and while the Wild could be in line for a fall from grace, hopping five or six other teams in the standings is hard to do in the charity point era. The Devils showed last season that keeping the dream alive all season is possible, but the Ducks will have to keep this winning trend up a lot longer to be serious playoff contenders.
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