Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/23/13
After failing to qualify for the playoffs last season, the Anaheim Ducks were picked by most NHL pundits to once again, be one of the leagues bottom feeders. With a 3-0 victory over Edmonton on Monday night, the Ducks clinched their second Pacific Division title in their 20-year history. Its exciting to win the Pacific Division. Its really big for us, said forward Andrew Cogliano who is making his first trip to the postseason in his six years in the NHL. We had a lot of doubters at the beginning of the year. This is satisfying for everyone. The Ducks last Pacific Division title was back in the 2006-07 season when Anaheim went on to win their first and only Stanley Cup. The Ducks are locked in as the second seed in the Western Conference, guaranteeing them a minimum of home ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Anaheim is still awaiting to find out their opening round playoff opponent. The likely opposition being Minnesota, Columbus or Detroit. These three teams are separated by just one point as they fight it out for the final two berths into the postseason. The Ducks leave Edmonton in far better shape than when they arrived. Anaheim came to Edmonton having lost four straight, scoring a paltry five goals in the four games. The Ducks offense came to life in sweeping this mini two-game series from the struggling Oilers, scoring three goals in each of the two contests. While it may not be an offensive explosion, the Ducks are a virtual lock to win games when scoring at least three goals. Anaheim has won 39 of their past 43 games when they score at least three times in a game. Players will tell you that the playoffs are all about sacrifice. Everyone doing whatever it takes to win and Mondays victory over Edmonton illustrated that the Ducks are already in playoff mode. While goalie, Viktor Fasth made 24 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season, it was just four more shots than his Anaheim teammates, who blocked 20 shots on the game led by defenseman Toni Lydman with eight. The sacrifice of guys blocking shots is something you love to see as a coach. Guys were willing to pay the price to win and that is what you have to have at this time of the year, said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. With the Pacific Division wrapped up, the Ducks can use their final two games at Vancouver (Thursday) and at home to Phoenix (Saturday) to give some players much needed rest while still doing things on the ice, necessary to get ready for the playoffs. You still got to play hard, Cogliano said. You dont want to have two wins and then not play hard in these last two games heading into the playoffs. Still, for Anaheim its nice to have the luxury knowing that their postseason fate has already been settled and they have earned the right once again to compete for Lord Stanleys Cup.
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