It didn’t seem likely at the beginning of the season, as the Ducks started out 0-3, but tonight’s win over the LA Kings in Anaheim ensured that the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks would all be in the playoffs in 2011. It’s the first time since the Ducks joined the NHL (in 1993) that all three teams will be in the playoffs at the same time. Who would have predicted that in spite of Canada having double the teams of California that California would be represented by more teams than Canada? (Only Vancouver, #1 in the NHL, and Montreal will be representing Canada in the NHL playoffs in 2011).
Ducks’ coach Randy Carlyle said that “it is amazing that you’ve got to play 81 games to find out you finally made the playoffs.” Carlyle also talked about how great it is for California hockey (not just SoCal) that all three teams from the state are in the playoffs this year.
Though Teemu Selanne (40) is the oldest player on the Ducks and one of the oldest players in the NHL, he’s consistently been one of the best and scored the Ducks’ only two goals tonight against the Kings. Selanne is the only one of the 10 oldest players currently playing in the NHL in the top ten of NHL scoring (#9 before tonight’s two goals). Coincidentally, Ryan Smyth, the Kings’ oldest player (35) scored the only Kings goal in Anaheim tonight.
Because of tonight’s loss, the Kings fell to 6th place in the western conference. The conference is so tight that the Kings can still end up in 4th place if they win tomorrow and Nashville and Phoenix lose their final games in regulation. In fact, the Ducks could still potentially end up in 4th place, since they beat the Predators and Coyotes in the first tie breaker. With the playoff standings still up in the air, tomorrow night’s game in LA where the Kings and Ducks face off again is sure to be an intense end of the season before the SoCal teams start the playoffs next week.