ANAHEIM – Coming out of their Christmas holiday break, the Ducks are locked into a battle with The Significant Seven.
Their run of seven straight Pacific Division games started with a loss to first-place Vegas on Wednesday and continued with a matchup against Calgary at Honda Center on Friday night. A three-game homestand concludes on New Year’s Eve against Arizona before they hit the road.
That travel schedule takes them to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. And when the Ducks come out of their mandatory five-day schedule break, they’ll only deal with the Kings at Staples Center. All except Arizona can call themselves participants in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Is this a do-or-die stretch for a team just outside the eight West spots? It won’t sew anything up with the second half of the season still to play. But the Ducks don’t want to find themselves buried at the end of it.
“You don’t want to get (more) behind than we already maybe are with the division games,” Ducks defenseman Josh Manson said. “We’re putting an importance on it. We know we got to come out above .500 with this stretch of games. It’s going to set us up well at the end of the year if we do.”
In their run of five straight Pacific titles, the Ducks started their surge after Christmas if they weren’t already rolling into the break. The last two seasons, in particular, have seen them shake off some first-half doldrums and make their climb up the division standings.
Facing the teams right around you is part of this year’s quest, as it has at this time in the past. The Ducks entered Friday tied with Calgary as both sat one point behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot.
“I think they’re always important,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said. “Especially after Christmas, they get a little more important. You see how tight the whole playoff race is. We got to start looking at that now because if we wait, it’s going to be too late. So these games are…