Dynasty Hockey League

Anaheim makes postseason push

Since being dispatched by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of the second round of the Season 13 playoffs, the Anaheim Ducks have yet to revisit the postseason. The Anaheim front office seems to think that this year might mark the return of safety orange to postseason ice.

“There is a palpable optimism right now,” said a source who wished to remain anonymous. “The Western Conference has played out a bit weaker than [general manager] Lance [Lavelle] predicted, and the team’s commitment to defense has put them in a position to challenge for a playoff berth.”

The team held a closed-door meeting late Friday night after a 4-0 loss to Ottawa on home ice. With only six wins in their last 28 games to that point, team leadership laid bare their feelings and flaws. According to several sources with knowledge of the meeting, captain Bo Horvat challenged his teammates to make the playoffs this season in spite of the pundits and their own expectations.

“Bo does his job quietly and efficiently,” the source said. “But I think he thought his teammates were starting to feed into the negativity that was starting to surround the team.”

Within hours of that meeting, ownership gave the greenlight on a trade to bring in a veteran presence to help bring some stability and much needed scoring to a squad that suddenly feels good about themselves. In the late hours of Saturday, Anaheim and Pittsburgh management agreed on a deal that sent center Brandon Dubinsky and wingers Corey Perry, David Perron, and Patrick Marleau to the Ducks in exchange for winger Sven Baertschi and prospect Trent Frederic as well as three draft picks and cash. The deal saw Pittsburgh trade away their leading goal scorer and leading playmaker.

“I had inquired about these guys about a month ago, but I just didn’t feel that the team was trending toward the playoffs and so I didn’t pull the trigger,” Lavelle recalled. “Justin [the Pittsburgh general manager] was completely understanding. I had talked with some other general managers around the league looking for some veterans with scoring prowess, but ultimately I had to go back to Pittsburgh.”

In a strange twist of fate, the Ducks and Penguins just completed a home-and-home series. The deal, which was approved by the league between the two games, saw the players swap teams for the second game. The first game, in Pittsburgh, was a 2-1 victory by Anaheim. In the second game, Pittsburgh triumphed with a 4-1 scoreline.

“It was bittersweet,” Dubinsky conceded, referring to the trade. “At least I’ll know a couple folks over in that dressing room.”

In their final games in a Penguins sweater, and in front of the home crowd, Brandon Dubinsky tallied an assist on a Patrick Marleau goal. Perry and Perron were held off the scoresheet for Pittsburgh, while Sven Baertschi, in his final game for Anaheim, was also held scoreless. Baertschi, however, did tally an assist on a goal in his return to Anaheim, while Patrick Marleau added to his goal streak and scored his first goal as a Duck; Corey Perry earned an assist on the goal in his first game as a Duck.

With 32 games remaining, the Ducks find themselves only ten points behind the St. Louis Blues, who currently occupy the final playoff spot.

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