We’re through a large part of the 2013-2014 regular season and just like last year, the Anaheim Ducks are firmly in a playoff spot. Right now, the Ducks are sitting at the top of the league, conference and division with a record of 41-14-5 and 87 points. Every team has its over and underachievers and it’s time to take a look at some guys on the Ducks that I think could fit into either one of those categories.
The first name that comes to mind is rookie defenseman Hampus Lindholm. I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that he’s been an overachiever so far this year. Looking back to when the Ducks drafted him 6th overall of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, nobody really was paying very much attention to him. Then everyone got looks at this kid and realized he’s got some incredible talent. Then he made the team and then he blew us out of the water with his performances. If anyone says that they thought Hampus would be 3rd in the league in plus/minus, you’re out of your mind. Dustin Penner. Yeah, Pancakes. I certainly wasn’t expecting him to be this successful this year. He’s been hurt a lot in the previous years, but he hasn’t been effective, possibly because of his work ethic. He’s not in the doghouse, like he was with the Los Angeles Kings and he is on pace to score more points this season than he did in two and a half years in LA.
Another guy that comes to mind is Andrew Cogliano. A player who has settled into a checking, third line forward role has played more like a second line forward. With 22 games still left to play, Cogliano only needs one more goal to tie a career high (18) and only 14 points to tie a career high (47). His effect on the offense is by far more than expected. It’s tough to pick out some other overachievers. You could say that both Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Bonino are overachieving. Getzy already has set a career high in goals (29) but he’s put up these types of overall numbers before. Bonino is having a ridiculous season number wise. Bones seems to have carried over his offensive production from Italy during the lockout where he posted 52 points in 19 games. He’s already set career highs in pretty much every stat category. He’s grown into one of the most valuable players on this team. If he can perform like this year after year, he’d be incredibly valuable.
Is it unfair to label Luca Sbisa as an underachiever? He’s only played 14 games, but in those 14 games, I don’t think he’s been very good at all. That could be contributed to not getting time to get into a groove, but his play has been discouraging since last year. With the early rise of Lindholm and the play from Ben Lovejoy, Luca is now looking expendable. He’s just about the only guy on the blue line for the Ducks right now that I would be unhappy seeing in the lineup against another top team. Is it also unfair to label Jakob Silfverberg as an underachiever? He got off to a real hot start, but then he got hurt. Since returning to the lineup, Silfver has not been the same player. I understand his struggles more than I do Luca’s. Jakob is probably still adjusting to life in SoCal and is still adjusting to his spot in the lineup. So, I will NOT name Jakob as an underachiever.
Some of you might disagree with this next pick, but I see Kyle Palmieri as an underachiever. This year he has appeared in 52 games and last year he appeared in 42 games. He has 22 points this year in those 52 games and he had 21 points in 42 games last year. The consistency hasn’t been there from Kyle. So, yeah, I would definitely say that I expected more out of Palms. Hopefully, this is just some growing pains as he partakes in his first full year in the NHL.
So, altogether, I can’t really name many more underachievers on this team. They’re all playing really well together and that’s what is most important. We’re heading for the home stretch and every game matters. This is what makes hockey so great. Sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy!
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