2015-2016 Anaheim Ducks Season Preview
As a Ducks fan I will not go as far as to say that they will win the Stanley Cup this season. Anaheim does have a solid shot at Hockey's most famous hardware, but I don't want to get ahead of myself and claim that it is there's already in October. I will look at realistic goals that I do believe that Anaheim can reach and hopefully surpass.
The Ducks were one of the best teams in the NHL last season, clinching the top record in the Western Conference and reaching the conference final only to lose in 7 games to Chicago, the eventual Cup champs. The ducks have one of the best dynamic duos in the league with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. For years the top 2 players not the Ducks were all they had, the team struggled because they did not have enough depth to go far in the playoffs, some years not even making the cut. With the addition of Ryan Kesler as their second line center, and the emergence of rookie Rickard Rakell and the D corps as a whole, 2014-2015 was a true representation of the teams new depth. over the summer The Ducks lost beloved Defenseman Francois Beauchemin but he was quickly replaced by another solid veteran, Kevin Bieksa who came up in Vancouver with current Center Ryan Kesler. The Ducks traded disappointing forward Emerson Etem for established speedster from New York, Carl Hagelin. Etem showed flashes of brilliance but never showed that he could match his goal scoring prowess like he did in his last year of juniors, scoring 60 goals in just over 60 games. The Ducks have players on all four lines that can contribute such as Andrew Cogliano who plays third line minutes but is very fast and has not missed a single game in his career that has spanned close to a decade, The Ducks defensemen including Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Simon Despres, and Sami Vatanen can also move the puck and chip in some offense. There is no question that the Ducks have what it takes to win the President's trophy, awarded every year to the team who scores the most total points in all of the NHL at the end of the regular season.
Ryan Getzlaf MVP:
Ryan Getzlaf is a very possible prediction to be named the most valuable player in the NHL this season. Year after year Getzlaf and Corey Perry display their chemistry and skill, putting up point totals that are often within the top ten of the NHL. Corey won the Hart Trophy (MVP) in 2010-2011 after scoring 50 goals and helping the team back to the playoffs after a year's absence, the most impressive part of his achievement was that Ryan Getzlaf was out with an injury at the time. Ryan Getzlaf has never won the trophy yet has outscored Perry overall in their respective careers. Getzlaf has a chance this year because he is well respected throughout the league as captain of the Ducks, not only for his point totals but his willingness to stand up for teammates. If The Captain leads the team to the playoffs which is a virtual lock, while staying injury free and scores in the top 5 of the league, I can see him winning the Hart Trophy for league MVP.
Winning the Western Conference Final:
Anaheim is one of the top teams in the Western Conference, that being said anything can happen in the playoffs. The parity in the NHL is so visible that it is common for lower seeds to win a series. The Ducks are very good when they shut down a team in 5 or less games, what they struggle with is do or die game 7's. In the previous 3 seasons, Anaheim has lost game 7's at home, disappointment year after year. Luckily, though game 7's have not went well for The Ducks, each year they have taken a step further and lost in later stages of the playoffs. One factor that has doomed this team is coming across more experienced, battle tested foes. The last 3 teams that have eliminated Anaheim were Detroit, Los Angeles, and Chicago who have won a combined 6 Stanley Cups in the last 8 seasons. The Ducks need to start winning game 7's, goalie Freddy Andersen who has gained experienced through 2 straight seasons of disappointment in net is one year wiser and ready to beat his demons. The Defense is young but talented and This team's overall depth and increased experience will hopefully lead to another step forward.
The Anaheim Ducks are gonna be one of the most successful teams in the NHL this season, there is little doubt about that. The level of success is what is in question, will they win the Stanley Cup? that is almost impossible to predict, many factors could lead to or prevent this from happening. Coach Bruce Boudreau is on the hot seat after many unsuccessful runs at the cup, his teams are known for having regular season success but falling flat in the post season. It's hard to think Bruce will keep his job passed this season unless he leads the boys to the Cup final, he might not even keep it if the make it and lose. Cup Final or bust for the flying V.