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Coming homestand a chance for Anaheim to move back into playoff spot

The Ducks celebrated just a single goal Thursday night, but it was all they needed. Andy Devlin/NHLI/Getty Images

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GibsonJohn Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Gibson won his third straight game Thursday, making 21 saves in a 1-0 shutout of the Edmonton Oilers.


RinnePekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Rinne allowed all five goals in the Predators' 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. He has lost two of his past three starts and allowed at least three goals in each of those games.


Are the Ducks finally ready to make a move in the Pacific Division?

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: First of all, top of the New Year to my colleagues. A better team with whom to march into 2016 could not be found anywhere. And speaking of 2016, is it possible this could actually become the year we thought it might be for the Anaheim Ducks? They still can't score with any regularity --- ranking dead-last in goals per game (1.86), tied for 20th in power-play efficiency (17.7 percent) -- but thanks to their 1-0 win Thursday night over the Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks have now won three in a row. The streak marks just the second time this season they have won more than two in a row. Over their past 10 games, the Ducks have fashioned a 6-3-1 record as they slowly crawl toward a playoff berth in the tepid Pacific. John Gibson got the win and the shutout, his fourth since being recalled from the AHL, to push his record to 7-4-2. He boasts a tidy .931 save percentage and has stabilized things in goal for the offense-starved squad. The Ducks begin the New Year with a visit to Vancouver on Friday night and then have eight straight home games. So, what are you expecting out of the homestand? Is this when we see the Ducks make their long-awaited charge back to contention?


Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Yes, Scott. Here's my first prediction for 2016: Once the Ducks get back into the top three in the Pacific, they won't leave it. And if the Ducks do crawl back into playoff position and hold it, GM Bob Murray will have provided a blueprint for how to handle adversity that we don't see often enough: patience. Believe the people you put in place will do their jobs. Nobody would have blamed Murray if he had made a change at coach, especially considering the ready-made replacements already in the organization. The homestand could be the stretch when we end up looking at the Ducks and realizing they've pulled it back together and re-established themselves as legit Stanley Cup contenders. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here on the first day of 2016, but is there a better spot to be in this year than No. 2 in the Pacific when the playoffs start? They still have to go out and do it, but my bet is they find a way.


Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: Happy New Year, my friends and colleagues. Scotty, we miss you here in Boston at the Winter Classic, but do you really want to talk about the Ducks? I'm kidding, my friend. We all know about being opportunistic and what that can mean to a team that's struggling. I think that's the case for Gibson, who has taken full control of his opportunity since being recalled from the AHL. A team can feed off that momentum, and the Ducks desperately need something to motivate them at this point, or they were going be on the outside looking in at playoff time. We've talked about this before, whether the Ducks could regroup and become a Cup contender, but I don't think it will happen this season. No doubt they are a talented team, but it's not going to happen this season. And (full disclosure) I picked them in our preseason poll to win the West.


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