The Ducks are winning, and there are a number of good reasons why, but perhaps none is more prominent than the Ducks ability to have all 4 of their lines score.
When the Ducks fired their Stanley Cup winning coach, Randy Carlyle, and hired Bruce Boudreau, they were making a statement. The Ducks had limited success for a number of seasons and the formula they used to win the cup seemed to no longer be working. Randy Carlyle’s message seemed to have run dry, and a change was needed. Bob Murray, (with the support of the the Ducks owners, the Samueli’s), made a change that would completely change the system and culture in Anaheim.
Looking back, Carlyle’s system was to have 2 top scoring lines, a grinding line, and a fourth line that rarely got ice time. Under Carlyle, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan saw a ton of ice time and at times were incredibly dominant, but the end result was an Anaheim team that became easy to defend. If you could shut down the big guys, you shut down the Ducks. Don’t get me wrong, Carlyle is a great coach but the system in Anaheim was clearly not working and a new voice was needed in the locker room. And nearly every hockey pundit cited the same reason the Ducks could not get to the next level: a lack of secondary scoring.
Carlyle got fired, Boudreau came in, and 4 lines became the system and mentality for Anaheim. Can we argue with the results this season? Or even last season?
Who is the Ducks leading scorer right now? Kyle Palmieri. Granted, he has been getting time on the top line with Perry and Getzlaf, but remember when Daniel Winnik started the season as the Ducks leading scorer? And how awesome has Saku Koivu been on the third line? How about Andrew Cogliano? Awesome right? The Ducks fourth line had the first goal of the game last night against Nashville, and Nick Bonino had a hat trick earlier this season against the Los Angeles Kings. Simply put: the Ducks have become the ideal score-by-committee team, and have made themselves into one of the hardest to defend teams in the NHL as a result.
The Ducks currently have 9 players with 5 goals thus far in the season. For comparison sake, the Chicago Blackhawks, (currently ranked first in the NHL), have 5 players with 5 or more goals thus far in the season. The reigning Stanley Cup champs have 3 players with 5 goals or more. Is there any question as to why the Ducks have been winning this season? The Ducks arguably have scoring spread out in their lineup better than any team in the NHL.
So thank you Bob Murray for making the change. It was an enormous shift for Anaheim but it has made all the difference. Let the winning ways continue in Anaheim.