David McNab was with the Ducks when they first unboxed the pucks.

He has been in the sanctum for nearly every decision, including the No. 5 pick of the 1998 NHL draft.

When he finally saw Bryan Allen the other day, assistant general manager McNab told him, "If we'd have lost one more game in '98, you would have been here."

The Ducks needed a heavy-lifting, shot-blocking, occasionally fire-breathing defenseman. They were looking at Allen, but he went to Vancouver at No. 4.

So the Ducks took Vitaly Vishnevski, who gave the Ducks four menacing, productive years and now is back in Russia, playing for St. Petersburg.

Allen made his way from Vancouver to Florida to Carolina, clearing out space in the slot, moving the puck off the doorstep, transmitting the proper vibe.

"He's going to get in the way," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.

The Ducks signed the 6-foot-5 Allen last July, along with 6-foot-4 Sheldon Souray, to give their defense more birthdays, wingspan, muscle and wisdom. Goaltender Jonas Hiller hasn't had an adequate scarecrow in his field since Chris Pronger.

And that brings us back to what McNab said: One more game. It often came down to one more game in the Western Conference during 82-game seasons. This one, a 48-game shotgun start, will be sliced even thinner.

In 2011 the Ducks were 47-30-5 and got the No. 4 seed, although they were eliminated by Nashville in a six-game first-round series. Had they lost one more regular-season game and failed to take another loss into overtime, they would have missed the playoffs by one point.

In 2012 the Kings did not know they were in the playoffs until the 80th game. They eventually qualified by five points. What happened next? Well, Ducks fans with selective memories can begin covering their ears on Saturday at noon.