Dominating, intimidating, overpowering, versatile, and resilient. They all describe the league-leading, white-hot Anaheim Ducks.
The team from Orange County isn’t surprising any experts or pundits any longer. If a seven-game winning streak immediately following a 6-1 blowout loss in their season opener wasn’t proof enough, the Ducks have since unfurled two more seven-game winning streaks, becoming the first team to reel off three such streaks since the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings (who went on to win the Stanley Cup).
No team is better right now than the Ducks, who have won 17 of their last 18 games (17-1-0) to become the fifth team in NHL history to win 17+ games in an 18-game span. The Ducks are 9-0-0 at home and 8-1-0 on the road during the stretch.
Meanwhile, there isn’t a tougher place to play right now than Honda Center. The Ducks are 19-0-2 at home, becoming only the fifth team in 40 NHL seasons (since 1973-74) to record points in each of its first 21-plus home games of a season. The Ducks join Philadelphia (19-0-7, 1979-80), the New York Islanders (19-0-4, 1978-79), San Jose (20-0-2, 2008-09) and Boston (19-0-2, 1973-74) in that category.
Anaheim, which is riding the best home start and longest home point streak in club history, is the only NHL team that has not lost in regulation at home this season. The Ducks have won nine consecutive home games and earlier set a club record with eight straight home wins to open a season. The last team to record two separate home winning streaks of eight or more games in a single season was Calgary in 2006-07 (10, Nov. 7-Dec. 12, 2006; 8, Jan. 4-Feb. 3, 2007). Anaheim, which was the last NHL team to lose at home in 2013-14 (Nov. 20 OTL vs. New Jersey), has outscored the opposition, 80-39 (excluding two SO goals), at Honda Center.
It’s a pretty powerful thing when you have all 25 guys fighting for the same goal with the same confidence in each other. - Cam Fowler
But all of this is simply a feather in the cap for a team that has its attention on one thing, and that’s the present. Today that means a rematch with the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center. The Ducks continue to be a team led by a coach who likes to set weekly goals, not monthly ones. “Win the week,” head coach Bruce Boudreau likes to say.
“It’s really a unique way of looking at things,” said Cam Fowler, who leads Ducks defensemen in scoring with 26 points. “We always talk about winning the week. If you do that, you’re going to put yourself in a good position. We just take it game-by-game and look at it in short-term goals instead of the big picture.”
The 22-year-old, who will make his Olympic debut next month for Team USA, says the Ducks remain humble despite all the accolades and success through the first 48 games of the season.
“We’re happy with the success we’ve had so far, but we haven’t really accomplished anything,” he said. “It’s the first half of the regular season, but we’re going for bigger and better things here. We understand we have to continue to improve to reach those goals.”
Their opponent comes into Honda Center with a bit of an edge, bringing a nasty, physical game into Los Angeles two nights ago, only come out on the wrong end of a 1-0 shutout. There were 109 penalty minutes in that game, 69 earned by the Canucks.
And who can forget their most recent visit to Anaheim? If it wasn’t for a late game-tying goal from Nick Bonino that sent the game to overtime (where Corey Perry won it with 1.3 seconds remaining), Anaheim’s record-chasing home streak might have simply been what could’ve been.
The regular season is long and demanding. It’s every bit unforgiving as it is rewarding. A strong 82-game regular season can put a team in a good spot heading into the playoffs. It’s in the playoffs when legends are born. It takes 16 postseason victories to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
But tonight marks regular season game No. 49 for the Ducks, with three more months left before the real test begins. The Ducks will need to be even better down the stretch to make a long run in the most grueling postseason in professional sports.
“It’s a pretty powerful thing when you have all 25 guys fighting for the same goal with the same confidence in each other,” said Fowler. “We have that in the locker room. No matter the circumstances, we feel we can win every game. That’s a pretty power thing. It’s something special to be around.”
And while Boudreau tells his players to think in the present, Ducks fans can at least keep one eye on the future.