One recurring Pacific Division topic in the twilight of the 2011-12 season revolves around the Anaheim Ducks' second half resurgence under Bruce Boudreau: What has changed, and why is there such a stark difference from their erratic play in the first half of the season?
Obviously Jonas Hiller's minutes in net have vastly improved, as has the level of play from the team's elite core, most notably Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.
But the most distinct aspect missing from Anaheim's forgettable first half but clearly visible in the team's 22-10-5 record since January 6 has been the solidified roles provided by young forwards who have made the leap in improvement under Boudreau. Whereas earlier this season the third and fourth line forward slots were filled by players shuttling to and from the American Hockey League, they're now being occupied by productive young players with a high work ethic.
"They won't quit," Boudreau said about the team's less-veteran contributors. "They're fighting ...