It’s been a while since the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
The team that won that championship is largely no more, with big contributors like Chris Pronger, Scott Neidermeyer and Jean Sebastian Giguere having moved on in the years since, whether to retirement or other teams.
Since then, the team has had little playoff success and has even missed the post-season a couple of times. But they seem to be on the rebound, last year having finished second in the West before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings.
The Ducks hope to make up for that disappointing end with a strong season and long playoff run this year. Is it possible?
Key #1: No goaltending controversy
The Ducks don’t need the distraction of another goaltending controversy, just a few years removed from when Jonas Hiller wrested the starting job away from JS Giguere. At 31, Hiller has plenty of years left as a prime contributor in the net, but last year Viktor Fasth played almost as many games in the Anaheim crease. Fasth had the slight edge in goals against average and save percentage, but Hiller is likely to get the benefit of the doubt and every chance to cement the number one position this season. Whoever ultimately takes the crease in Anaheim, they had better do it soon and definitively, as every winning team needs strong goaltending.
Key #2: Don’t miss Bobby Ryan too much
The Ducks clearly gave up the best player in the deal that sent goal scorer Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for youngster Jakob Silfverberg. The Senators will surely benefit from Ryan’s added offence, but the Ducks won’t be going without goal scoring. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf remain as offensive cornerstones, and the youthful Silfverberg will get a chance to prove himself as well. Veteran Sheldon Souray is reaching the end of his career but his canon of a slapshot can still be counted on for some power play goals. Saku Koivu is also getting up there in years, but he can still pot the occasional goal. The returning Dustin Penner also adds to an offense that has plenty of depth. The Ducks should not have any trouble lighting the lamp this season.
Key #3: Do it for Teemu
If there’s an x-factor on this year’s Ducks season, it’s Teemu Selanne and what he has said will be his final year in the league. The Finnish Flash has been a seemingly ageless wonder in recent years, still capable of putting up numbers that would make young prospects jealous. If this is truly to be his last year, his teammates will want to do everything in their power to make sure he goes out with a bang; maybe even a Stanley Cup ring. Look for one more big season from Selanne.
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