Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/25/12
Seven games remain in the season for the Ducks and it is safe to say that they won't replicate the importance or the atmosphere of the four Stanley Cup playoff contests that Nick Bonino took part in last season. The season figures to end for the young center once the final horn sounds in Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome on April 7. But it would be foolish to say that the remaining games won't carry any meaning. Bonino knows he will be watched closely, as will wingers Kyle Palmieri and Devante Smith-Pelly. The seven games will be about leaving a favorable impression in the minds of the Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and the organization's chief decision-makers. "Someone's always watching," Bonino said. "We want to show Bruce that we're not going to quit. As far as being out of the playoffs, that (stinks). Everyone wants to be in the playoffs. "Everyone's competing for jobs. I know I'm in a contract year. I'm sure a bunch of guys are. It's a case where you're playing for jobs and you're not going to stop playing." From one extent to another, the three forwards have gone through the ups and downs of trying to establish themselves in the NHL and there have been the requisite moments of success and failure that come along with that. Some moments of real promise have been realized this week. On Monday night, Bonino had a career night by setting up three goals while Palmieri had a goal and assist as the two with new linemate Bobby Ryan dominated San Jose. Bonino then followed up with his fifth goal of the season on Wednesday in a win over St. Louis. Meanwhile, Smith-Pelly was promoted to the top line against the Sharks after teaming with Ryan Getzlaf for a shorthanded goal Sunday against Nashville. The two also connected on Wednesday as the 19-year-old has shown similar flashes as a developing power forward in his rookie season. All three are finding their way while being a part of the Ducks' furious two-month push in January and February back to respectability and subsequent March slide that will figure to keep them out of the postseason. "I'm just trying to take everything in here and learn the way obviously," Smith-Pelly said. "You're not going to be the best team in the league every year. Just kind of learn how to deal with stuff like this in my first year. "I already knew coming in every season's not going to be perfect all the way through. You're going to have times like this. This season is just going to help not only myself but buys like Palms and (Cam Fowler). How to deal with this in our career." Palmieri and Smith-Pelly have been touted prospects since they were drafted by the Ducks in the high rounds over consecutive years. The two appear to be fixtures in the club's plans going forward. Bonino has had to prove his worth after a rough 2010-11 season in which he didn't produce anything in the first half with the Ducks and spent the remainder of the season in the American Hockey League before he was summoned for the playoffs. After not scoring a point in 26 games last season, Bonino has five goals and 11 assists in 43 contests after coming up from Syracuse to stay in December. "Personally, I think I've had a much better year obviously than last year," he said. "I think I'm a guy that can create offense and have been doing that a lot more than I did last year as you can see obviously from my points. "It feels good and obviously my confidence his higher. I feel like I'm playing at a higher level."
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