The Ducks continue to reel off victories during the most crucial stretch of the season. They jumped out to an early lead and topped the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Sunday. That was their seventh time in the last eight outings the Ducks emerged with a standings point. And with just 14 games remaining, they seem poised to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Here’s what we learned:
Cam Fowler is riding a three-game point streak, and when he’s providing this type of offense, the Ducks are a tough team to contend with. During that span, Fowler is firing the puck more, too. He generated three shots on goal versus the Blackhawks, and four a piece in the previous two contests.
Surely, it helps that he’s now playing alongside Brandon Montour, a smooth-skating, offensive-minded blueliner. Fowler has appeared more willing to join the rush and it’s paying dividends. His give-and-go play with Ryan Getzlaf was a thing of beauty, and it helped set up Corey Perry’s second goal.
Derek Grant is settling in nicely now that he’s back in the lineup. The longtime minor leaguer was pressed into top-six duty early in the season with Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler injured. Their returns, coupled with the acquisition of Adam Henrique, pushed Grant out of the lineup entirely.
But recently, he’s replaced Antoine Vermette as the fourth-line center, and he proved why Sunday. Grant produced two assists, and he was also strong in the face-off circle with a 53% success rate (he was over 90% the previous game).
John Gibson continues to play great hockey, and if he can stay healthy, the Ducks could be a formidable force in the playoffs. In two games since he was pulled off injured reserve, Gibson is 2-0, and he faced a bevy of shots in both contests.
He stopped 34 of 36 on Friday, and then another 37 of 40 versus the Blackhawks. Ryan Miller filled in capably, and they’ll need him during a month that features plenty of condensed games, but Gibson gives the team its best chance at victory.