For the Gulls, the scenario is very simple:
Win their final regular season home game on Wednesday night and they are in the playoffs. In fact if they win any of their final three games, or simply make it to overtime in two of them, they’ll be in the playoffs.
But winning on Wednesday in front of the home crowd is definitely the way they’d like to go.
“The faster the better,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “You want to get that behind you as quickly as possible so we can start looking forward to what comes next.”
Reaching the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs should be made a tad bit easier because the Gulls are getting some reinforcements at a very good time. Their parent club, the Anaheim Ducks, missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons so they sent some of their young rising stars back to San Diego to get some more ice time.
Center Sam Steel, left wing Max Jones, and defensemen Jacob Larsson and Jaycob Megna were all reassigned to the Gulls. They all spent a few months in the NHL and that experience should do nothing but good things for the Gulls.
There’s also the fact the Gulls are playing San Jose on Wednesday. The Gulls are 6-3 against the Barracuda this season, outscoring San Jose 37-27 overall. If there’s a little more of a sense of urgency … and judging by the crisp pace of practice on Monday in Poway there definitely is … it’s warranted.
The Gulls don’t want 2019 to end the way 2018 did. A year ago they went to Tucson for their final two regular season games needing just one point to reach the post-season and came up empty.
Their final two games of this season are both back in Arizona. Hopefully this time they’re just trying to get a better playoff seed instead of fighting for their post-season lives.
“I think we learned last year we don’t want to wait until the end of the year to have that urgency,” said center Sam Carrick, who set franchise records for single-season goals and points. “We definitely don’t want to leave it until the last weekend again like we did last year. We learned a lot from that and we’re not going to let that happen again.”
The puck drops on Wednesday night at 7:00 at Pechanga Arena. If they hang on to their current seed their first round opponent would be the Barracuda.