Just in case you didn't get the headline. I'd like highlight some of the positives at the half way point.
As of late John Gibson has been lights out. He hasn't given up more than three goals in a start since December 13. In that stretch, he is 9-1-4, 1.61 GAA, .945 SV% and two shutouts. Those are amazing numbers. Gibson has clearly established himself as the the Ducks #1 goaltender. Its the type of play that if done in the post season can propel a team far.
They Have Overcome
Its no secret that Anaheim doesn't have a traditional second line to provide offensive support to Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry. Despite that fact, clutch offense has come from some surprising sources. Jakob Silfverberg has had an outstanding first half; scoring 29 points, 24 of which have come at even strength or man down. He and the other members of his line, Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Kesler have stepped up their offense while maintaining their defensive prowess.
Ondrej Kase has come from seemingly out of nowhere to provide skill and scoring to the third line. Speaking of the third line, center Antoine Vermette is the glue of the bottom six. His 56 faceoff win percentage as well as his mentoring of the younger forwards on his line has been invaluable. Vermette has justified the faith GM Bob Murray placed in him when he signed a two year, $3.5M contract in the offseason.
Leaders of the Pack
48 games in and the Ducks lead their division. Although their offensive output has been lacking on many nights, Anaheim also leads the division in goals scored. Imagine where this team would be with a top notch left wing added to the mix.
Murray has managed his tight cap room with guile and moxie. He put together a team that is “in position to be in position” at the stretch run and trade deadline. The foundation is present to go far in the postseason. A significant acquisition or two makes this team a title contender.
Ducks @ Minnesota
It's hockey day in Minnesota. Tonight the Ducks are in St. Paul to take on the Western Conference leading Wild. Anaheim look to avenge the 2-1 home loss the Wild handed them 12 days ago. Unfortunately, they will play without Silfverberg, who did not make the trip due to an injury sustained in Thursday night's game. Logan Shaw will move up from the fourth line to take his spot. Cory Tropp and Shea Theodore have been recalled from San Diego. Both may play tonight. Here is the expected lineup: