Thursday, October 13, 2016

Anaheim Ducks Season Preview

Today is October 13, 2016, and Tonight The Anaheim Ducks open their season against the Dallas Stars.  The Ducks are my favorite team and to everyone who does not know and I'm sure is wondering, yes I became a fan because of the movies.  I may be one of the biggest Ducks fans regardless of the fact that my devotion started with Charlie Conway and not Guy Herbert or Paul Kariya, I was 4 when the third movie came out and have stayed loyal for the last twenty years since, most of those years ending in sad fashion for the real life Ducks.  Anaheim starts this season with a similar lineup that has blown 4 straight game 7s on home ice, 4 straight pacific titles, 0 Stanley Cups.  I get losing a series in 7 games, I really do, The Cup is the hardest trophy to win in all of sports, what I do not get is losing 4 straight years on home ice, you are literally given every single advantage and pissing it away time after time.  What is different this season, or not so different, is that The Ducks will have a new coach, well not really, Randy Carlyle was re hired this past summer.  Carlyle led The Ducks to a Stanley Cup win in 2007 followed by several mediocre to awful campaigns between then and his firing in 2011 when he was replaced by Bruce Boudreau, Bruce failed to do anything in the playoffs in 4 plus seasons, was fired and replaced by the guy he replaced.  I have hopes for The Ducks this year, i'm definitely leaving out the adjective high, my hopes are realistic and they exist but not the extent that they are high hopes, I can't be hurt again.  The Ducks will be in the top 3 of the pacific division by season's end and one of my all time favorite Ducks will likely no longer be on the roster.
(Both Lindholm and Fowler playing together, need this, neeeeed, get it figured out Bob Murray)

New(ish) Coach:
The Ducks are going to be led by Randy Carlyle once again, it's almost like Bruce was a buffer (lol, Bruce Buffer) who got The Ducks better for Randy to have an easier time coaching them once it just became too obvious that Boudreau can not win in the playoffs ever, he is the pretty girl who you eye for awhile and once you get to the big dance (talking bout sex stuff) she is quite underwhelming and you miss that average gal who got the job done, good ole Rand got that job done 10 seasons ago.  In my mind I immediately got excited when Carlyle was re hired, he won my favorite team a Stanley Cup when I was a freshman in high school, the first great memory I have of the Ducks and when I truly became an avid follower of hockey. I remember Teemu Selanne finally winning it all after 15 years in the league and the tears that I myself would have cleaned up for him had he asked me to.   2008 was a disappointing early exit for Anaheim the year after winning the cup, 2009 was a surprisingly good playoff run for an 8th seed Anaheim Squad who beat the top seeded San Jose Sharks before losing in seven games in the second round to eventual Western Conference Champions, The Detroit Red Wings.  2010 was a season of mediocrity and the Ducks finished the season in 18th and got the 12th overall pick which ended up to be Cam Fowler who was rated a top 5 player and dropped unexpectedly.  2011 had The Ducks back in the playoffs as a 4th seed and they fell in the first round to 5th seeded Nashville.  By November of 2011 the Ducks were in the bottom 6 of the league and Carlyle was let go, the players just stopped responding to his style of coaching.  Looking at Carlyle's previous stint with Anaheim, yeah they had a bit of success and it's exciting that he's back, then again they literally hired a guy who the players just stopped listening to.  I'm sure Carlyle talked to his top guys, told them things are going to be different this time around,  kind of like a shitty boy friend telling his ex that he's changed but probably hasn't.  I hope Carlyle is a good boy friend and treats his ex that he's back with with respect and they end up being great together.
(Randy was the best defenseman in the league once, people forget.)

Roster Stuff:
The Ducks ended up losing or not offering contracts to guys like Forwards Jamie McGinn, Chris Stewart, and David Perron.  Younger players like Nick Ritchie, Nick Kerdiles, Joey Cramarossa and Nick Sorensen and cheap bottom four options like Jared Boll, Mason Raymond, Chris Wagner, and Antoine Vermette will more than fill any holes former offensive guys may have left.  

The Defense is pretty much in tact but like forward Rickard Rakell, top dman Hampus Lindholm remains Not Active due to lack of a contract to start this season.  New comer Jacob Larsson who plays a similar two way style to Lindholm was brought in to fill the gap left by his fellow country man.  Another factor that is linked to Raks and Lindholm not having contracts is the fact that Cam Fowler's $4 mil/year contract is taking up cap space and he will most likely traded.  Cam came on the scene in 2010 when he was filmed at the draft and visibly nervous after each pick when he was not chosen until number 12 when he was finally picked up and seen as Scott Niedermayer's replacement.  Cam impressed immediately in 2010-2011 by scoring 40 points as a rookie defenseman, but his defense struggled for the next few seasons as he was considered a liability.  Cam has gotten much better defensively and his plus minus has gone into plus territory rather than his formerly putrid minus stat.  Cam will likely be dealt and that is not due to him being bad, but more so because Hampus Lindholm is a future number 1 in the NHL and it is too expensive to keep them both.  As much as I will no doubt miss Fowler, he needs to be moved asap so we can get those Swedes on the ice, or hey Anaheim, make me happy and just trade someone else, plz thx.

The top two scorers this year will unsurprisingly be Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf more likely than not.  The issue with the "Twins" who have been one of the best duos in the NHL for the better part of a decade, is how many points will they score?  Corey Perry can most likely be penciled in for another 30 goal season but how many points overall? last season Getzlaf and Perry each put up 63 and 62 points respectively..... not bad totals especially in this era of the NHL, but a far cry from their point per game seasons and MVP caliber outputs, Perry won the award in 2011 after scoring 98 points including 50 goals, and Getzlaf is often a candidate for the award.  The 2016 season started as horribly as any first half season can, The Ducks were last in the league before Christmas and the Twins were not scoring, it took several games for Perry to score his first of the season, so the scoring sped up in the second half but was still unacceptable.  The other top offensive player Anaheim has is Ryan Kesler who was a finalist for the Selke as top defensive forward in the league and a consistently clutch performer.  The issue with the Big 3 in Anaheim is that Corey and Getzy are each 31 years old and Kesler is 32, all of which are under contract until at least 2021.  All three players are still good performance but their best years are likely behind them and it is more important than ever that young guys such as Nick Ritchie, Sorensen, and Kerdiles can pick up the slack.  Also Getzlaf has the smoothest shot in the league and passes first, 31 is not too late to change that El Capitan, lets see more goals, ey?

This off season Anaheim traded Goalie Freddy Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a first round pick who ended up being forward Sam Steel.  Freddy is a number one goalie in the NHL, but at some point he had to be separated from John Gibson, another number one guy Anaheim has who is 4 years younger and a bit better than Andersen.  The Ducks got Jonathan Bernier from Toronto in a separate signing to back up Gibson, Bernier was a failed experiment in a Maple Leaf sweater and after several years it was apparent that he's just not a number one type of guy, that being said I believe in him as a back up.  The Ducks also acquired Dustin Tokarski who will be a starter in the AHL and a number 3 with NHL playoff experience.  The Goaltending situation is solid from 1 to 3 and each guy will play their respective part in the organization.  
(who needs a pic of him playing, just look at this pretty bastard)

Tie it all together:
Like I said in the first paragraph of this blog, I have hopes, those hopes are not high because I have been let down too many times by this team.  The Ducks are a good team and they are a playoff team, that much is true, I think they can finish anywhere from first in their division to squeaking in with a wild card spot.  With players like Simon Despres, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm, they have the most promising young defense corps in the NHL, and with the offensive big 3 of the Ryans and Corey Perry, the forward lines are a proven and deep bunch.  Goaltenders know their role and the cage will have stability for the next decade with John Gibson at the helm.  Randy Carlyle won a Stanley Cup albeit with a roster laden with future hall of famers/ a couple of current hall of famers, so hopefully that magic is rekindled.  I am worried about how the players take to Randy but hey maybe the Wild will fail this year in the playoffs in a game 7 (they will) and we can have the pretty girl, Bruce Boudreau back and make the finals every year and lose again.  Trade Rakell and someone else and let's keep my baby boy Cam Fowler.  If this season is a disaster though, I believe wholeheartedly that Nolan Patrick will wear the fuck out of a Ducks sweater.

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