Of all the teams in the Pacific Division, I fear the Ducks the most. San Jose may have won the division last year and Dallas may have made it to the Conference Finals, but neither team would scare me as much as the Ducks in a series. Think about this: the Ducks played a quarter of their season without Scott Niedermayer and maybe 2/3 without Teemu Selanne; they had to trade their 2nd-line center to free up cap space; they had Todd Bertuzzi on their team; their 2nd best offensive player was injured for the last part of the season and the playoffs; and their captain was suspended for attempting emergency amputation on some asshole's foot.
And they finished 4th in the conference.
They weren't realistically going to go very far in the playoffs because they didn't have time to mesh last year, but that won't be a problem this season. The Ducks were the 2nd best defensive team in the league last year and losing Mathieu Schneider won't affect that ranking too much. They had trouble scoring last year but have added Brendan Morrison, Bobby Ryan, Teemu for the whole season, and a healthy Ryan Carter (who I thought was pretty awesome before he broke his wrist last season). More importnantly, they've dumped both Doug Weight and Todd Bertuzzi, 2 slow, bumbling forwards that were kind of embarrassing to watch. And of course, they still have the 2nd best young forward duo in Southern California in Getzlaf and Perry.
A lot of people get seduced by the Sharks or the Stars because they were the teams that made headlines last season. They've both added some pretty good pieces and will both likely make the playoffs, but if I'm another team in the NHL I'm praying that I get one of those teams instead of Anaheim in the playoffs. I think some people may be sleeping on the Ducks because they're eventually going to be average once Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne finally retire, but right now they're still incredibly talented. They have the best defense and the best goaltending in the division, two dynamic offensive players, and a shutdown line that could stop George Clooney from scoring. Fear the mallard, friends.
Monday, September 08, 2008