|Selanne and Anaheim can see the eighth spot now. (Getty Images)|
This is shaping up just like a Disney movie. They could call this one The Mighty Ducks. Oh, wait ...
Go back about two months and you'd find the Anaheim Ducks left for dead. They were playing the Columbus Blue Jackets with the loser taking the lead in the Fail for Nail (Yukupov, top draft prospect this year) race. That's how far in the dumps they were.
A look at the standings today after their 2-1 win in Pittsburgh Wednesday night reveals the Ducks are only six measly points out of a playoff position with 25 games to go. Meanwhile, they are now 17 points up on the Jackets, having passed six other teams on the way up.
It has people wondering if they can do the unthinkable, pull of a remarkable comeback and sneak into the playoffs. In looking at the bubble teams earlier this week, colleague Adam Gretz estimated the Ducks will roughly have to finish the season 20-6-0. That could possibly come down. Perhaps an 18-7-1 record could be enough. Those three fewer points make it seem a lot less daunting, don't they?
The point is, the odds are still long. But are they too long for the Ducks?
Remember how they finished last season, on a tear that took them to the playoffs and Corey Perry to the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Anaheim closed out the season going 15-5-0. Considering it's mostly the same group of guys just with their No. 1 goaltender actually on the ice this time, why couldn't they put together a similar record this year?
I don't have a good reason for you other than it would mean stretching this strong run out for much longer and the odds of a team staying that hot for that long aren't good. Then again, they did stay so cold for so long earlier this season.
With Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and the rest of the crew scoring goals again -- something they weren't doing earlier this season -- it's possible. When they are on, that's one of the most talented group of players you'll find in the game.
You'd think the road-heavy schedule might be the big obstacle, and it well could be. But right now they are halfway through an eight-game road trip and have picked up seven of the eight possible points so far.
If it happens that the Ducks do find themselves sneaking into the playoffs, I can't imagine there will be a team that would want that first-round matchup. Also, you can anticipate hearing some calls for Bruce Boudreau to win the Jack Adams Award as the league's top coach. A turnaround like that would put him in the conversation with Ken Hitchcock, John Tortorella, Kevin Dineen and more. Imagine that, a coach winning the Jack Adams in the same season he was fired.
Personally, I wouldn't say Boudreau would be deserving of the Adams. No, I'd vote Bob Murray for general manager of the year over Florida's Dale Tallon. Remember, it wasn't the hiring of Boudreau that was the impetus for this surge, it was Murray threatening to trade everybody but Selanne and Saku Koivu. Talk about a kick in the pants.
I'm going to go out on the limb and say I think the Ducks will get it done and make the playoffs. Unfathomable two months ago, I'm going to say I'm one of the believers now. What's your call?
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