Originally written on Tonight's Healthy Scratches  |  Last updated 1/23/12

Don't look now, but the Anaheim Ducks have just gotten into the Flying V and are propelling up the Western Conference standings. When the Ducks ousted former head coach Randy Carlyle and brought in Bruce Boudreau just days after he himself was sent packing from Washington, the team was in utter disarray. 

With a 7-13-4 record, and a heavily under-producing offense, it seemed as if the Ducks were going to be battling Columbus for a lottery pick, rather than the top dogs in the West for a high seed in the playoffs.

Fast forward six weeks, and the Ducks are currently the hottest team in the NHL.

After hiring Boudreau in early December, the Ducks continued to produce more of the same, puttering to a 3-8-2 record under their new coach. 

Enter January.

Call it a New Year's resolution if you wish, but since the calendar flipped to 2012, the Ducks have been nearly unstoppable. Perhaps Bruce Boudreau channeled his inner Gordon Bombay after the Holidays, because after looking like D-5 for the first three months of the season, the Ducks have transformed into a well-oiled machine.

Over their past 10 games, the Ducks have posted an eye-opening 8-1-1 record, outscoring their opponents 35-19 over that span.

Despite their tenacious start to 2012, the Ducks have built themselves one giant-sized hole to crawl out of. When Boudreau took over the team, the Ducks sat dead last in the Pacific division, and just one point out of last place in the Western Conference.

Although their game has done a complete 360, they still remain dead last in the Pacific, and 11 points out of eighth place.

With the trade deadline looming, and many general managers around the league starting to feel the pressure of tinkering with their lineups in anticipation of the final leg of the regular season, the Ducks and general manager Bob Murray are in a tricky situation.

With the way the team has been playing of late, will Murray be less intrigued to start shipping key parts of his team away?

As Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien pointed out, February will be a strong test to whether or not the Ducks can really make a run at the postseason.

The Ducks will spend a the majority of the month on the road. After a four-game home stand, the Ducks will get ready in the visitor's dressing room for nine of the final 11 games of February.

Not only will the fact that they're on the road be an obstacle, but the caliber of teams they are playing is also a battle. Outside of a couple of winnable games against Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers, Sabres, Hurricanes and Tampa Bay, the Ducks have their work cut out for them.

Will the Ducks prevail through the tough stretch next month or will they be like the rest of America, who is rapidly starting to give up on their resolutions after five weeks?

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