Oct 4, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
2010-2011 record: 47-30-5, 99 points; 2nd in Pacific, 4th in West
Playoffs: Lost to Nashville 4-2 in Western quarterfinals
After an embarrassingly bad road trip to start last season, the Ducks managed to turn things around and eventually earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs last season. Teemu Selanne proved that he could still play even though he turned 40 before last season. Lubomir Visnovsky showed that he is one of the most potent offensive defensemen in the league, and Jonas Hiller demonstrated in the first half that he is a world class goaltender. Take all of that and mix in an unstoppable top line led by the defending Hart Trophy winner and there are plenty of pieces in place to get fans in Anaheim excited.
There’s no question that the Ducks’ offensive line is extremely top-heavy — but those few stars showed that they were capable of carrying the team last season. MVP Corey Perry, captain Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan combined last season to be arguably the top line in the entire NHL last season. Selanne joined Getzlaf and Perry on the power play and put up 31 goals and 80 points of his own. If the major players can stay healthy, they’re going to get theirs.
For the Ducks, the key will be for the team to get some scoring depth from the other lines. Jason Blake and Saku Koivu will join Selanne on the second line. Newcomer Andrew Cogliano will take over for Todd Marchant as the shutdown center. Another bottom-six player to watch could be rookie Devante Smith-Pelly — he plays the perfect style of game to be an effective, physical player who can create energy and opportunities for his teammates.
The weak spot on the Ducks is their blue line. Guys like Lubomir Visnovsky and Cam Fowler are the types of blueliners who can create offense from the point, but true shutdown defenseman are few and far between in Anaheim. Toni Lydman was a fantastic surprise for the team last year and will be asked to do the same last season. Francois Beauchemin will also look to rediscover the game he left during his first stint with the Ducks. Regardless, the Ducks were 20th in the league in goals against average — not a good stat considering Jonas Hiller and Ray Emery were such strong goaltenders last season.
The word out of Anaheim throughout training camp is that Jonas Hiller is 100 percent and ready to start the season as the No. 1 goalie. He was one of the best goaltenders in the league going into the all-star break, but a bout with vertigo symptoms in essence sidelined him for the entire second half. Ray Emery stepped in with Dan Ellis to help the Ducks survive to the playoffs — but it’s always been Hiller’s net. In the offseason, the Ducks let Emery leave for a tryout in Chicago and acquired Jeff Deslauriers to put a little pressure on Ellis for the backup role.
Randy Carlyle started his tenure in Anaheim with a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2006 followed it with the franchise’s first (and only) Stanley Cup in 2007. Unfortunately, the team and Carlyle haven’t had as much playoff success in the four years since reaching the promised land. Still, the Ducks have consistently been a playoff contender — due in large part to Carlyle’s ability to get his team to play with a tough edge.
Cam Fowler has all the makings of a breakout player this season. After his highly-publicized freefall in the 2010 draft, Fowler found himself in Anaheim in his very first season. He gradually became more comfortable on the ice and finished the season with 10 goals and 40 points. He also had a minus-25 rating. The Ducks and Fowler say that he’s more comfortable on both sides of the puck and he’s slated to get first-line power play minutes this season. Watch for Fowler to improve upon his rookie stats and grow into a legitimate top-four defenseman role.
In some ways, the Ducks can look to last season for their best-case scenario. Perry was able to put the team on his back and score 50 goals (even with Getzlaf out for an extended period of time). Selanne was able to stay healthy and didn’t miss a beat and Hiller was one of the best goaltenders in the game during the first half. If Anaheim can replicate everything from last season and have better luck on the injury front, it could battle for home-ice in the first round again.
The Ducks will need to prove that they can keep the puck out of the net. In a way, Anaheim is an interesting case study in building a team. While the Ducks used defense to win a Cup in ’07, they’re now led by an elite handful of scorers and a great goaltender. They could certainly use more depth at forward and a little more help on the defensive side of the blue line. Still, the Ducks proved that their formula can produce positive results when everyone produces at the highest level. They may slip, but the third spot in the Pacific and the seventh spot in the Western Conference are realistic expectations.
May 18, 2013, 1:45 PM EDT
On-ice chatter at its best.
May 18, 2013, 12:51 PM EDT
He missed 12 games with a broken thumb.
May 18, 2013, 12:11 PM EDT
Cap troubles and no-trade clauses abound.
May 18, 2013, 11:20 AM EDT
He’ll need three months rehab for a third-degree MCL sprain.
May 18, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT
A preview of today’s games is ahead.
May 18, 2013, 9:44 AM EDT
Selke finalists show us how it’s done.
May 18, 2013, 1:47 AM EDT
Boston leads New York 1-0 in the series.
May 18, 2013, 12:45 AM EDT
Oh, the mystery.
May 18, 2013, 12:19 AM EDT
Ottawa has yet to play with the lead in this series.
May 17, 2013, 11:59 PM EDT
Ottawa in a hole.
May 17, 2013, 11:35 PM EDT
Pittsburgh now two wins away from advancing to conference final.
May 17, 2013, 11:08 PM EDT
Drastic reduction in ice time in Game 2 compared to Game 1.
May 17, 2013, 10:46 PM EDT
Continue the debate.
May 17, 2013, 10:17 PM EDT
Sid the Kid nets three.
May 17, 2013, 9:49 PM EDT
Ottawa hanging around in the third period.
May 17, 2013, 9:26 PM EDT
Played once in these playoffs.
May 17, 2013, 9:01 PM EDT
Pittsburgh up in Game 2, up in the series.
May 17, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
He’s been out with a broken thumb.
May 17, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT
According to Sharks GM Doug Wilson.
May 17, 2013, 7:12 PM EDT
Oh, and Adam Burish has a broken hand.
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- Bruins’ Hamilton: ‘I don’t feel like a rookie anymore’ 21
- Penguins’ Murray: ‘We need to be better’ 6
- Senators’ coach MacLean: Karlsson ‘wasn’t one of the best players’ 4
- Discuss: Penguins defeat Senators in Game 2; lead series 2-0 37
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators 90
- Torres won’t appeal suspension, Sharks call punishment ‘grossly unfair’ 10
- Flyers owner Snider: ‘I didn’t pick Bryz’ 60
- Sens’ MacLean, Ducks’ Boudreau, Hawks’ Quenneville are Jack Adams finalists 23
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Discuss: Penguins knock Islanders out of playoffs (99)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (93)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (90)
- Capitals discuss ‘lopsided’ penalty calls (82)
- Watch Live: Red Wings at Blackhawks
- Swimmer Phelps denies comeback rumors
- LIVE: Third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship
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