Move over, Chicago. It’s Anaheim’s time to shine.
Had it not been for the Blackhawks' sensational streak to start the season, the Ducks would’ve been the ones commanding all the attention as the league’s hottest (and frankly, most surprising) team out West.
Now they are finally getting their chance to hog the spotlight.
As ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out, it was a massive coup for the organization and Ducks general manager Bob Murray to lock up both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to eight-year extensions, and the strength of their play this season was a big reason.
On the same night that the Ducks announced the eight-year, $69 million extension for Perry on the in-game scoreboard, the Ducks racked up their franchise-record 12th straight home win, topping the Sharks 5-3 in a well-rounded effort.
With Getzlaf, Perry, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan, the Ducks have been a team that has boasted top talent in recent years, but it’s the contributions they’ve received up and down their lineup that have been the difference this season.
A glance at last night’s scoresheet is a prime example.
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin tallied twice for the Ducks, while Southern California product Emerson Etem scored his first NHL goal and both Peter Holland and Getzlaf (short-handed) chipped in with second-period markers of their own as the Ducks improved to 21-3-4.
Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik, two pleasant surprises in providing secondary scoring for the Ducks, also found their way onto the scoresheet with one and two assists, respectively.
And let’s not forget goaltender Viktor Fasth, whose scorching start to the season continued as he collected his 11th win, turning away 32 of 35 shots.
Nabbing 17 of 20 points in the past 10 games (7-0-3), Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks are now nipping at Chicago’s heels with 46 points, only five points behind the Western Conference leaders.
Is it not impossible to suggest that Anaheim could close the gap and pass the front-runners before the regular season draws to a close?
Not only are the Blackhawks without Patrick Sharp, but the Ducks have the benefit of now playing eight of their next 12 games at home, including the next four straight.
And guess who is next up to make a trip to the Honda Center?
You guessed it, Chicago.
The Blackhawks enter Wednesday’s match on a three-game winning streak after Monday’s 5-2 win in Colorado, looking to create some separation at the top of the heap.
With these two teams battling for bragging rights in the West, it promises to be nothing short of one of the marquee matchups of the season.