Ducks are done and the Kings have some work to do
The Ducks had been officially eliminated from playoff contention a few minutes before their game ended in Anaheim, when Colorado beat Vancouver in a shootout.
Colorado’s victory also eliminated Calgary: the Avalanche and Flames can finish tied in points but Calgary can’t equal Colorado’s 43 wins and wins is the first tiebreaker. So the West entrants are set though the placements aren’t.
The Ducks’ poor start this season and their 0-4-1 slump after the Olympic break did them in and ended a streak of four consecutive playoff appearances that included a Stanley Cup championship in 2007. They went through a lot of changes this season and took a huge step back on defense — yet they were only two points out entering the Olympic hiatus.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Coach Randy Carlyle said. “We’ll analyze the season in segments. I can tell you right now that the first two segments of the first 20 games is really what you look back on and a huge part of the reason we’re in the position we’re in.
“Coming out of the Olympic break we didn’t give ourselves a chance. Those are things that come back and stick in your mind. We’ll deal with it and move forward.”
They’ll have a lot to deal with, including whether free agents Teemu Selanne, 39, and Scott Niedermayer, 36, will return next season. Selanne has seemed only to get stronger as the season progressed: He has five goals in his last four games and by scoring twice Tuesday recorded his 13th season of 25 of more goals. His 26 goals in 53 games projects to a 40-goal pace over 82 games, a mark he won’t reach because of a freaky assortment of injuries he suffered this season.
Those injuries don’t compare with the hurt the Ducks are feeling now.
“We missed the playoffs. It’s not good and not fun,” winger Corey Perry said. “You play this game to win championships and this year we don’t get to be a part of that process.”
Niedermayer said Tuesday’s game “was very similar to many that we played this year. It was disappointing to let it get away. It’s been a tough year. We’re disappointed that we’re in this situation. We’re not happy at all.”
The Kings will get to participate in the postseason tournament but their chances of getting anywhere seem smaller with each goal that gets past Jonathan Quick.
On Tuesday he struck out on his sixth try at his 40th win. Since his last win, against Colorado on March 22, he has lost three games in regulation, one in a shootout and has been yanked twice, getting no decision on those occasions.
In those six games he has given up 17 goals on 128 shots, a .867 save percentage.
It figures. The Kings had finally seemed to have solved their age-old goal-tending problem but it reared its ugly head again. Quick got them this far and Coach Terry Murray indicated he will go back to Quick for the Kings’ next game, against Phoenix on Thursday at Staples Center, but do you feel confident starting him in the first playoff game?
And do you really feel confident with Randy Jones’ matador defense? Not that the Kings’ immediate alternatives are much better. Davis Drewiske hasn’t been the same since his shoulder injury and Peter Harrold is too small to play the “heavy” game that Murray likes.
The Kings have three more chances to get their goal-tending and overall game in order. They can still finish fourth, if they win all of their games and the Coyotes lose all three of theirs.
One more Ducks note: Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky sustained an apparently significant hand injury late in the game and will undergo tests to determine the extent of the damage.
-- Helene Elliott