Thursday, September 25, 2014

Anaheim Ducks 2014-15 Season Preview

Your 2015 Stanley Cup Champions, The Anaheim Ducks! well that is at least what I think is going to happen.  I am a very rare, die hard Anaheim Ducks fan from Connecticut.  You'll never be able to guess how I became a fan! just kidding it was the movies.  I have been a Ducks fan since the mid 1990s, which is impressive considering I was born in '92.  The real version of the Ducks is a serious contender to win the Stanley Cup, may allegiances aside, the Ducks actually are the real deal.

Last Season
The Ducks said farewell to one of the greatest forwards of all time, Teemu Selanne after a 20 plus year career.  Teemu had stints with other teams and actually started his career in Winnipeg, but is still considered the Ducks all time best player.  Teemu is similar to Derek Jeter in the sense that teams, players and fans around the league were sad to see him retire as a face of the sport and professionalism.  Teemu and the Ducks finished with a dominant regular season and first seed in the Western Conference.  The eighth seeded Dallas Stars surprised many people by putting up an incredible fight and it took a miracle game six victory for the Ducks to eliminate the boys from Texas.    The Ducks then played the LA Kings who were coming off a near sweep/comeback to beat the Sharks in 7 games.  The Kings are probably the most well conditioned teams in the league and are a massive, mostly 6 feet and above, 200+ pound team.  The Ducks got beat up and eliminated in seven games, though they were actually up 3 games to 2, for the most part the Kings just looked like the better team.  Promising rookie goaltender, John Gibson led the Ducks to 2 victories and 2 losses and looked very impressive aside from the game 7 team debacle.  Too many defensive lapses, inexperienced goaltending and being outsized led to the tragic demise of Anaheim's contending team.

The Ducks landed the biggest fish in the free agent pool, Ryan Kesler.  Kesler was unhappy in Vancouver playing in a team that is becoming more and more on the decline, he requested a trade and the Ducks nabbed him for Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, and the 24th overall pick in the draft.  Ryan is a big man, standing at 6'4 and weighing 220 pounds, Kesler gives the Ducks an elite second line center to play behind the franchise captain, Ryan Getzlaf, another big boy.  The Ducks needed Kesler to add to their size and be competitive against the Blackhawks and Kings of the West along with the Bruins of the East.  Barring injury I would expect Ry Guy to put up north of 65 points this season, maybe more depending on how much power play time he gets, which will probably be a lot.

An under the radar move by Anaheim was signing Dany Heatley to a 1year/ 1 million dollar deal.  Dany Heatley was a superstar in the early to late 2000's but his offensive numbers as of recent have taken an absolute nose dive, guy was looking like a sure fire hall of famer a few years ago but now it's more than questionable.  Dany Heatley has slowed down in his 30s, production wise and literally. Heatley has had behavior issues in the past and even missed a good chunk of a season a decade ago because he was involved in a car accident that left the passenger and his teammate deceased.  All in all, if you put Heatley on the top line, his number could have a revival.  Heatley, much like Kesler, is a huge body, also 6'4 and weighing north of 220.

Reasons they will win the Cup.
The Ducks have one of the top Dynamic Duos in the league in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.  Both of these big boys are well over 6 feet and 200 pounds each.  Perry is an asshole on the ice, he takes little jabs when refs aren't looking and pisses everyone off, which is actually a great way to play because he is constantly getting under opposing players' skin and making them do dumb things in retaliation.  Getzlaf is a big, strong skater who leads on and off the ice as the captain and feeds Corey Perry and other teammates for about 60 times a season.  Whoever you put with Perry and Getzy will flourish and have career years.  Look for each player to put up at least 80 points this season with their third line member putting up at least 65.

The Ducks are a huge team, like absolutely massive.  Out of the 4 lines of offense, 3 D pairings and goaltenders, there are only around 5 guys who are under 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.  The Ducks picking up Heatley and Kesler put them over the top as many peoples' favorites to win the cup this year, they need to grind it out for 82 games and 16 wins in the post season, these guys are built to do just that.

Goaltending was a pleasant surprise last year, Hiller was in decline, Fasth was always hurt and then traded.  Two youngsters took the reins for much of the year and showed they could be a tandem in years to come until one of them usurps the other, these young men being Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.  Both goalies are 25 and under and got much needed regular season and playoff experience.  Andersen is the older of the two as well as the lesser known goaltender, earning his spot with hard work in the minors and stats that couldn't be looked past.  Gibson has been one of the best goalies in the system since getting drafted in 2011, he has won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship as well as a bronze as a 20 year old in the Mens Championship, both in 2013.  Gibson is more decorated and probably the better of the two, but for now they will alternate games.

Biggest Concern
My biggest concern is Coach Bruce Boudreau, the guy is the best coach for the regular season, he leads his teams to the top of the conference each and every year scoring tons of points and looking dominant.  Bruce's time in Washington and now Anaheim though has been known for their earlier than expected playoff exits, the Ducks have been contenders for the past two seasons and have been knocked out in the first and second rounds in both years.  Bruce needs to figure it out, luckily he has an ultra talented team to back him up and I believe they will get over this.

Look for the Ducks to vie for the President's trophy as the best team in the regular season, but more importantly the Stanley Cup as the best team in the post season.

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