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After dropping the last five games of their long homestand, a change of scenery in the form of a road trip did not help the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks wrapped up their brief road trip this weekend, where they played three games in four days, losing all of them in regulation.
Anaheim stayed in the game throughout their 4-1 loss the the Seattle Kraken on Thursday, but still only managed 19 shots. Then against Edmonton, the Ducks actually did put together a solid opening frame, but things got away from them in the second period and after allowing 35 shots through the back 40 minutes, they were shut out in an ugly 6-0 defeat.
Their loss to the Calgary Flames was the most interesting game, where the Ducks took an early two-goal lead in the first period. Anaheim did end up blowing that lead, allowing three goals in the first half of the second period, but goals from Frank Vatrano and Scott Harrington put the Ducks back ahead through 40 minutes. However, Milan Lucic tied the game early in the final frame, before a late goal from Michael Stone led the Flames with a 5-4 win.
With the 0-3-0 road trip, the Ducks have now lost eight straight games in regulation.
Along with many other issues, a problem has been many of Anaheim’s top players aren’t producing. Mason McTavish has one assist over his last eight games, while Ryan Strome continues what’s been a disappointing stretch and year altogether, with a single point over his last seven games. Hopefully we also see Trevor Zegras make more of an impact as the season nears its end, with just two assists in his last seven games. That said, every point he accumulates probably raises his value on what’s sure to be a sizeable contract extension this summer.
Speaking of players due for new contracts, Troy Terry missed the road trip, as he and his wife are expecting their first child to be born early. He’s expected to be available for the team’s remaining home games.
One thing to track in the final stretch though: Max Comtois has made more of an impact since the beginning of March, scoring four goals and nine points over his last 15 games. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer and would need a $2.45 million qualifying offer. While it seems unlikely that he'll receive that qualifying offer, likely becoming an unrestricted free agent instead, a strong end to the season could always change things.
Lukas Dostal also continues to hold his own in NHL action, even if his numbers aren’t showing it. He’s gotten a good opportunity following Anthony Stolarz’s injury and considering the huge volume of shots and chances he faces in every start, he’s already solidified himself as an NHL-level goaltender. It's going to be interesting to see how much of the workload Dostal can take from John Gibson next season, assuming the duo begin the season as the Ducks’ tandem in goal.
In some other minor news, Anaheim also signed forward Judd Caufield to a two-year, entry-level contract over the weekend, which kicks in next season. Caufield was acquired last Friday from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Thimo Nickl and scored 10 goals and 19 points in 39 games with the University of North Dakota this season.
As of now, the Ducks sit second-last in the NHL in points percentage. They have five games left, with their next matchup coming tomorrow against the Edmonton Oilers. The Chicago Blackhawks are the only team behind them, with two less points than the Ducks while holding game in hand. The Columbus Blue Jackets are also tied with the Ducks in points, but they too have played one less game.
I think it's a legitimate question as to whether the Ducks will win another game this season, or end the year on a 13-game losing streak. Following their game against the Oilers, they'll get their best opportunity to earn a win on Saturday, as they face the Arizona Coyotes in a road matchup. When they return for a three-game homestand to close out the season, they'll take on the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks (who have been much better as of late), and then the Los Angeles Kings.
The Ducks are very much in the running for last place, so we'll see if they end up increasing their odds in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.