Well, it is no secret that the Anaheim Ducks have made a remarkable turnaround this season. Last year, this franchise just looked dead. However, this year, all season long, the team has displayed an incredible amount of energy, skill, drive and pride almost out of nowhere. Last year, the Ducks finished with a record of 34-36-12, good for 80 points, 13th in the Western Conference and 25th in the entire NHL. This year, with less than a week remaining in the shortened season, the Ducks have a record of 29-11-6, good for 64 points, 2nd in the Western Conference and3rd in the entire NHL. So, what are the reasons for the turnaround?
- Scoring Depth:
Even though they haven’t displayed it of late, the Ducks have gotten the secondary scoring that they did not have last season. The top three were just about the only ones who scored consistently, last season, along with Teemu Selanne who will always be in a league of his own. However, this season, the Ducks secondary scoring has been excellent. Andrew Cogliano is having his best season in a Ducks uniform (12 G, 10 A, 22 P, +15). Youngster Kyle Palmieri has really burst onto the scene this season, his first full-time NHL season (10 G, 10 A, 20 P). Veteran Saku Koivu is having a bit of a renaissance season (8 G, 19 A, 27 P). Daniel Winnik has surprised some folks with his offensive input, especially early on in the season (6 G, 13 A, 19 P). Nick Bonino has also had more of an offensive input and his stats would be better if he hadn’t missed so much time due to injury (5 G, 7 A, 12 P).
- Return of Captain Duck:
Ryan Getzlaf has returned to being one of the most dominant centers in the entire league this season. So far, Getzy has 15 G 32 A for 47 P in 43 games played. He is also +14. He has been a completely different player. Last year, he just looked lost, only tallying 11 G 46 A for 57 P in 82 games played. He had absolutely no confidence last season, which led to the team having no confidence. He is the most valuable player to this team and these past two seasons has emphasized that. When he is playing well, this team will play well. He isn’t the captain for no reason.
- Fasth’s Emergence
Nobody outside of Anaheim probably even heard that he signed a NHL contract. Viktor Fasth signed with the Ducks on May 21st last year. He came over from the Swedish Elite League (SEL) in the same company as New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, being two of only three goalies in SEL history to win 2 goaltender of the year awards, which Viktor won in consecutive seasons. All he has done since making his NHL debut is post a record of 15-5-2 with a 2.10 GAA and a .924 SV%, while posting 4 shutouts. Oh, that also includes an 8-0-0 start to his NHL career.
- Beauchemin’s Norris-Worthy Play
A little critique of the Norris Trophy is that to win it nowadays, you also seem to need to put a lot of offensive numbers. It’s no longer solely the best defensive defenseman. We can thank Nicklas Lidstrom for starting that trend. Well, Francois Beauchemin has not always been known to be much of an offensive defenseman, but he has put up some good numbers this season. So far, he has registered 5 G 18 A for 23 P in 46 games played. But the most important statistic is that he is +20 this season. Along with Sheldon Souray, who is +23, the two of them have been among the league leaders in +/- all season long. Beauchemin is also among the team leaders in hits this season with 79. His defensive play has been exemplary and, in my opinion, should be a candidate for the Norris Trophy this summer.
It’s been a very enjoyable season. I could also add having more time to assimilate to Bruce Boudreau‘s system. But, a lot of things have gone well for the Ducks this season and I can’t wait to see how this team performs in the playoffs.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Andrew Cogliano Bruce Boudreau Daniel Winnik Francois Beauchemin Henrik Lundqvist Kyle Palmieri Lidstrom NHL Nick Bonino Nicklas Lidstrom Ryan Getzlaf Saku Koivu Sheldon Souray Teemu Selanne Viktor Fasth