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Anaheim’s playoff hopes are roasted

We’re coming to the point in the season where the bubble teams will start falling by the wayside one by one. Technically there are still a number of teams in the playoff hunt, but each passing game opens up the divide that much more between the pretenders and the legitimate contenders.

The Anaheim Ducks may be finished.

The Ducks haven’t won since the Olympic break and goaltender Jonas Hiller, who played so well for Switzerland, is stumbling right along with the rest of the team.

“We didn’t seem to trust each other and everybody tries to do some of the work that the other guy’s supposed to do,” Hillersaid. “We don’t trust. That’s just not how it works.”

Said Todd Marchant, “It’s something that is very difficult to comprehend at this point. Like Randy said, we’ve got to ... go back to work and be ready for that game on Friday.”

They sit just seven point back of eighth place in the West, but even if the Ducks go on a tear down the stretch they face something like a 30% chance of slipping into a playoff spot. And this is a team that’s been on the decline for a couple of seasons now; perhaps a year out of the playoffs will afford them a chance to rebuild and reload a bit.

“The easy thing is to give up and get down, and that’s what we’re trying to stop now,” Getzlaf said. “Get our momentum going back the other way and get our swing going like we did before the break.”

Ahh yes. You have to respect the attempt at positivity, but I don’t know what else you’d expect the players to say. I thought this was interesting:

“The most frustrating part for our coaching staff is when you go through practice and you see our execution level at a much higher level than in the games,” Carlyle said.

“That’s what’s so mind boggling right now.”

That’s the big challenge for all coaches; how to make the team perform in a game at the same level they do in practice. The Ducks could be the best practicing team in the NHL but win just one out every ten games. Is that on the players or the coaching? I’ve always been a believer that the ultimate onus is on the coaches; after all their job is to coach the players and prepare them for the game.

But at some point the players have to be held responsible, and perhaps the Ducks are at a point where some major changes are in store. There a number of potential UFA’s on the team, including Scott Niedermayer, Aaron Ward, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. The cap room for next season is manageable at this point but not great. Is that enough room for Anaheim to retool for next season?