What Kind of Start Can Be Expected from the Anaheim Ducks?


Oct 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Ducks dominated October.  After a rocky start, losing 6-1 against the Colorado Avalanche, The Ducks had a seven game win streak and ended the month with a 10-3-1 record.

Is this the kind of start we should expect from the Anaheim Ducks this October?  Perhaps not.

They lost Thursday night to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 6-4 blowout.  Will they bounce back and continue the season with a long winning streak like they did last year?

Ordinarily I’d say yes, but this season is different.  In the past, the attitude of the Ducks has been to play hard and find ways to win every night.  The goal was to top the Pacific Division and win home ice in the playoffs.  This year the goal is just to get into the playoffs, home ice or not.  GM Bob Murray has said “our first job is to get to the playoffs.  I don’t care where we finish.  Just get there and then we’ll figure it out.”

Sep 28, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center William Karlsson (front) attempts to move the puck defended by Los Angeles Kings defender Slava Voynov (back) during the third period at Honda Center. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks with a final score of 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Between last year and this year there are a handful of new faces throughout the lineup.  It may take some time for these new players to really coalesce with Anaheim’s players and systems.

The Ducks major offseason acquisition, Ryan Kesler, wasted no time in making his mark on the team getting a goal and two assists in the season opener.  However, other new players (Clayton Stoner, Nate Thompson, Dany Heatly, etc.) may take more time to mesh with the group.  This will especially effect the depth of the forwards, which was a big part of the Ducks success last season.  There’s a lot of uncertainty in the bottom six forwards, and, until they figure out where those pieces are going to fall, it’s going to be a big weak point for the Ducks.  This weakness was exploited by the Penguins last night as the Ducks bottom two lines were mostly pinned into their own zone.

The Ducks start their season on the road, playing against tough teams that wont let the Ducks get an easy victory.  In the month of October, the Penguins are just the tip of the iceberg.  Detroit, Philadelphia, Columbus, Minnesota, San Jose, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas.  These are tough teams to beat, and if the Ducks are uneven and don’t bring their “A” game, they’ll get dropped like they did Thursday night.

Despite all this, the Ducks still can get off to a strong start.  The Ducks are a Bruce Boudreau team and will not take kindly to losing.  Boudreau wants to go deep into the playoffs, but refuses to let up off the gas in the meantime.  While acknowledging the merits of what Murray says, Bourdreau feels that “when you start saying ‘ all we want to do is relax and get in’ then you’re in trouble.”   With the talent the Ducks have in their lineup, I’m sure they’ll win many of the early games.

The Ducks have a lot of talent and a lot of motivation, and are sure to win many games this year, however, the Ducks likely wont be as dominant early in the season like they were last year.  Last year the roster and the attitude of the team was pretty much set from day one.  This year there’s a lot of uncertainty and more of a feeling out process for what role each player will fill and what the makeup of the team will be.  That uncertainty mixed with the quality of competition will likely lead to an uneven October for the Ducks.

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