perjantai, 31. maaliskuu 2017

Anaheim Ducks are flying high atop the Pacific Division, but eyeing a bigger prize in playoffs

It took six months, but who's counting? The Anaheim Ducks have finally taken over sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division -- though that mantle might change, an a daily basis, with four teams still bunched within a few points and almost two weeks left to go in the regular season.

And really, after having finished at the top of the Pacific Division four consecutive years, accomplishing the feat for a fifth consecutive season isn't priority No. 1 for these soaring Ducks.

"It hasn't been really brought up in the locker room,'' defenseman Cam Fowler told ESPN.com over the phone over the weekend. "Obviously, any time you can compete for a division championship, that's a goal you should have. But at the end of the day it doesn't mean a whole lot. We have other aspirations as a club that are much bigger than that. We're more focused on our progression as a team and where we are headed, not looking at the standings.''

The real question is, What version of this Ducks nfl jerseys china authentic team do we have in front of us now? Is it the one that won a division title last year but flopped in the opening round against the Nashville Predators? Or the one that came one win short of a berth in the Stanley Cup finals after a tremendous Western Conference finals series with the eventual Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks?

"They are a team that can play you fast or play you physical, and they have a solid D corps that does not give you much," a Western Conference team executive told ESPN.com this past weekend. "Not flashy, but very effective.''

In a league that's closer than ever, and a Western Conference that's more wide open than it's been in a decade, the Ducks -- who have gone 9-2-1 in March -- are as good a bet as any in the Pacific Division, although you can make the argument for either the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames to come out of it, too.

"I think we've really just come into our own," said Fowler, who is having an outstanding season, with 37 points and plus-7 in 75 games. "We have a lot of guys playing at an extremely high level right now. We've had some guys playing great hockey all year and we've had some people start off slow. Now we all seem to be firing on all cylinders here, all really buying in to the type of hockey [coach] Randy [Carlyle] wants us to play -- which is hard, physical and structured defensively.

"We like where we're at right now, and there's obviously room to improve, but it's been a fun little stretch here lately.''

Carlyle came back on board in Anaheim last offseason after the Ducks fired Bruce Boudreau.

"Randy likes his teams to play physical and in-your-face, that's the identity we're trying to play with,'' said Fowler. "We have guys who can skate and push the pace, but we're really a meat-and-potatoes team. When we're at our best, we feel like we can really wear teams down.''

The advanced stats agree -- at least lately. Since March 1, the Ducks have controlled 51.4 percent of the shot attempts, the seventh-best mark in the league. For the entire season, however, they're still under 50 percent -- which is a red flag within the analytical crowd.

So which matters more -- the late-season surge or the overall picture from Day 1? I would argue that this is a veteran team that knows it's all about the playoffs. There was no reason for the Ducks to go all out in October and November.

Ryan Kesler's dynamic shutdown line has cheap nfl jerseys china been a force all season but another key in the second half has been captain Ryan Getzlaf raising his game. He had four assists Sunday night in the 6-3 win over the New York Rangers and has been terrific for several months.

The trade-deadline acquisition of Patrick Eaves by GM Bob Murray is looking like a darling of a move, as the bearded one found instant chemistry with Getzlaf.

Last fall, after he re-signed Hampus Lindholm, Murray declared that he was he was giving this core group another shot.

And so I asked Fowler this weekend how he would respond to the cynic who says, "What's so different about with these Ducks? Why is this version of the team going to get it done this spring?"

"Yes, we've come close and haven't got there yet, but I think that can only build you up as a team," said Fowler. "Getting close in that Chicago series [in 2015] was gut-wrenching, but we know that the pieces are in place. When you make a run in the playoffs, things have to line up for you, you have to be healthy, and a lot of things have to go right. We're just hoping that it's our time. In the meantime, we're trying to stay patient and focused.''

Just look at the Sharks. Anaheim's rival finally reached the Cup finals last year after more than a decade of being a great team that fell short in the postseason.

"It's easy for some people to be critical of you when you lose in the playoffs, but as players, we all know how difficult it is," said Fowler. "So many things have to line up for you to do well in the playoffs.

"With the parity in the league now, there's so many things that cheap jerseys can happen," he added. "I mean, Chicago is playing unbelievable and you always have to look at them, but you feel like, 'Why not us?' And that's kind of the attitude we have.''

perjantai, 31. maaliskuu 2017

Ducks give up lead in final minute of third period and lose to the Jets in overtime

Dustin Byfuglien tied the score with 12 seconds left in regulation and assisted on Mark Scheifele's 30th goal at 3:34 of overtime, rallying the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 victory over the playoff-bound Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.

Winnipeg scored twice in the final 8:25 of the third period to pull even.

Following a coach's challenge by Randy Carlyle of the Ducks cheap hockey jerseys, it was determined that Byfuglien's jam job in the crease was indeed a good goal.

Joel Armia and captain Blake Wheeler also scored in regulation for Winnipeg.

Corey Perry scored twice but the Ducks had their five-game winning streak snapped. Jakob Silfverberg also scored for the Pacific Division leaders.

Anaheim goalie Jonathan Bernier turned away 37 shots, his latest quality performance since taking over the starting job from John Gibson.

Bernier has been rock solid in March, leading all NHL goaltenders in wins. The 28-year-old is 10-1-2 this month, entering Winnipeg with a .946 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average — both good for third in the NHL in March.

Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves for Winnipeg, improving to 8-12-3 in his 19th start of the season.

Silfverberg opened the scoring at 8:17 of the first, whipping a wrist shot from the faceoff dot over Hutchinson's glove for his 22nd of the season.

The Jets got the equalizer at 11:54 when Armia scored his second short-handed goal in two games — and fourth of the season — with an impressive individual effort. He regained the puck after carrying it into the Ducks’ zone and beat an unsuspecting Bernier low with a quick shot for his 10th goal of the season.

Perry put the Ducks back in front with 1:04 left in the period, then added his second of the game and 18th of the season on the power play at 7:01 of the second.

Wheeler brought the Jets back to within a goal with his 24th of the season with cheap nfl jerseys 8:25 remaining in the third.

Anaheim clinched a playoff berth Tuesday night for the fifth consecutive season — the only Pacific Division team to do so. The Ducks have reached the postseason 10 of the last 12 years.

Winners of six of their last eight games, the Jets, who were eliminated from playoff contention Monday with the cheap jerseys online St. Louis Blues' 4-1 win over the Arizona, captured a third straight victory following a pair of one-goal wins over Vancouver and in New Jersey.

perjantai, 31. maaliskuu 2017

Winnipeg Jets rally from two down to beat Anaheim Ducks in OT

For one night, at least, the Duck dynasty was put on hiatus.

Dustin Byfuglien tied the game with 12 seconds left in regulation and set up Mark Scheifele for the overtime winner as the Winnipeg Jets rallied from two goals down to beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 Thursday night in a thriller at MTS Centre.

The win over Anaheim was a rarity for Winnipeg, which had lost eight of the last nine meetings between the teams, and was swept in the first round of the 2014-15 playoffs, the last and only time the Jets have made the postseason since returning to the league in 2011.

Scheifele one-timed a pass from Byfuglien with 1:26 left in overtime and beat Jonathan Bernier, as the Jets (36-35-7) overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit to extend their winning streak to three.

"There's still things to play for," Scheifele said after scoring his 30th goal of the season, a career high. "Obviously, the playoffs are out of reach but there's still a lot of things to fight for. Guys fight for jobs, guys showing what they're made of and they definitely showed it tonight."

Corey Perry scored a pair of goals for the Ducks cheap soccer jerseys wholesale (42-23-12), who lost to Winnipeg for just the third time in the past three years and saw their overall win streak snapped at five.

"We sat on our heels. We haven't done that in a long time," Perry said. "We've continued to go after teams and push. There's probably too many turnovers tonight and it fueled their offense."

First-place Anaheim saw its Pacific Division lead slip to one point over the Edmonton Oilers, who beat the third-place San Jose Sharks 3-2 Thursday. The Sharks are three points back of the Ducks.

The Jets also got a third-period goal from Blake Wheeler to cut the deficit to one, and Byfuglien stormed his way to the crease and shoved a loose puck past Bernier to force overtime.

Byfuglien's goal, his 13th of the season, pushed him past Evander Kane for sixth in goals in franchise history.

Nikolaj Ehlers, who drew assists on both the Wheeler and Byfuglien goals, said the Jets managed to find another gear in the second intermission.

"We decided to not just quit," Ehlers said. "We wanted to keep going and get the two points, no matter that. We worked our asses off, those last 20 minutes. It feels good now."

Jakob Silfverberg opened the scoring for Anaheim 8:17 into the first period. Silfverberg cheap jerseys took a puck off the left boards, took a couple strides inside and wired a wrist shot over Michael Hutchinson's shoulder for his 22nd goal of the season.

The Jets tied the game with a greasy short-handed goal a few minutes later. Joel Armia chased a loose puck into the Anaheim zone and won the puck battle in the corner. He emerged to Bernier's right and limply wristed a shot through Bernier's legs with 8:06 to go in the opening frame.

The Ducks regained the lead when Perry collected a rebound in front of the Jets' net and deposited his 17th goal of the season, with 1:04 left.

Anaheim extended its lead 7:01 into the second period. With Bryan Little in the penalty box for Winnipeg, Perry slid in from the right boards, toe-dragged around Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and slid the puck through Hutchinson's legs to make it 3-1.

Bernier made 36 saves in the loss, while Hutchinson stopped 25.

"They came out strong in the third and I think we gave them a few scoring chances that might have given cheap jerseys them a little bit of momentum," Bernier said. "At the end of the day we know what to do in the third when we have the lead and we just didn't execute it tonight. We've just got to turn the page now."

NOTES: The Jets scratched D Paul Postma, Toby Enstrom and Ben Chiarot, LW Shawn Matthias, C Marko Dano and G Ondrej Pavelec. ... Scratched for the Ducks were D Korbinian Holzer, C Logan Shaw and RW Ondrej Kase, who was called up from the AHL's San Diego Gulls on Wednesday. ... The Jets announced that Enstrom will miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery Thursday morning. ... Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault spent the 2013-14 season with the Ducks, scoring 43 points in 69 games. In 10 career games against the Ducks, he has five assists. ... Before the game, the Jets loaned D Brian Strait to the AHL Manitoba Moose. ... The Ducks continue their road trip with a game in Edmonton on Saturday. The Jets are home vs. Ottawa the same day.