ANACHEIM – The journey to hell and back took only four years without the help of Elon Musk.
The Ducks made the playoffs four years ago. They had lost a seven-game streak of head-on collisions with Nashville in the Western Conference Finals the previous year.
They have lost 100 games over the past three seasons, finishing last in their division hosted by COVID-19 last season.
The Ducks beat Seattle on Wednesday night to claim their 17th win. This equates to last year’s 56-game season. They have the best result in the Pacific Division, and before Friday’s match against Arizona they were within one point of the leader of the Western Conference Minnesota.
Mirages are common in October and November. Eventually they give way to the Real. Maybe it will still happen, but the Ducks just played 3-1-1 on a trip to Washington, Buffalo, Columbus, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, with two straight sets and without goalkeeper John Gibson and Captain Ryan. Getzlaf for the most part.
The Ducks lost to Toronto on November 28, losing four of their five games at the time. Since then, they have played 11 games and have earned at least one point in 10.
“Obviously, the expectations were low,” said defenseman Josh Manson. “But I never thought we were in bad shape. This team has a lot of skills and good goal play. Getzi was coming back and it was huge. When he leaves, it’s hard to stop him.
“For me, all the elements were successful.”
But when you put this puzzle together, you see a different picture and new questions.
They were originally going to devote a season to player development and then fill their front window with bright shiny objects by the March 21 trade deadline: Manson and Humpus Lindholm in the background, Ricard Ruckell in front.
Everyone is eligible for a free agency at the end of the season. Maybe the Ducks will pick up a couple of picks in the first round for these worthy veterans, maybe more.
Some people think it will be a smart strategy, even if the Ducks make the playoffs.
A significant portion of Honda Center customers would disagree with their lungs, or perhaps their receding legs.
Anaheim once hosted regular play-off hockey matches. It’s a drug and withdrawal is excruciating.
Any playoff game will be a good education for Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale. They might even give some training of their own.
Gibson meets the first requirement to advance to the playoffs. Manson’s controlled violence will lead to something else.
“It’s so far away,” Manson said, shaking his head. “Today our whole mantra is victory.
“But the playoffs are a different animal. You need guys who have been there before. You must be prepared for this type of game. But we haven’t even come close to that moment yet. ”
Manson is 30 years old. His father Dave played 16 years in the championship and had 46.5 hours of penalties. Nothing caught Josh off guard, including the exchange of views.
“I’m lucky,” he said. “I know that my path has already been paved for me. I just clear my head of all this. This year I just wanted to stay healthy. Indeed, it has been difficult to get injured for the last two years. ”
Manson has played 46 games in the past two years. In 2017 and 2018, he played all but two, and in 2019 he played an average of 22 minutes. He has answered all calls this season and has an average ice time of 19:59.
He remembers the overwhelming silence in the visitors’ locker room at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville as the Ducks stretched out shortly to the finish line. He could not possibly foresee the approaching free fall.
“I knew we had a very special team,” Manson said. “You certainly don’t enter the season expecting to lose. But even Murph (CEO Bob Murphy) said it. We had a window there for a couple of years. Everything lined up. I confess, I did not expect such losses that we have had recently.
“It’s different this year. The coaches focused on fast transitions, not bumming around when we get the puck, and not doing so many D to D passes. Just get him up the ice and the strikers do a good job in position. We did a lot of practice training. And the good thing is that we use the same things that we practiced. ”
The Duck’s swift transition, if continued, will cause them to rethink their appearance. Maybe it’s time to put off the blueprints because the old house looks winter-ready and beyond.