Anaheim Ducks Potential Playoff Opponents


The Anaheim Ducks are just two weeks away from the start of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Six of the eight Western Conference playoff spots have been locked up and potential opponents are taking shape.

Lets take a look at a few options for the first round of the playoffs:

San Jose Sharks

  • 2016 Record (76GP) 42-28-6 90 pts
  • Currently 3rd seed in Pacific Division
  • Ducks have gone 3-1 against the Bay Area rivals this season

Why this will be a good test for the Ducks

The Ducks and Sharks have had a heated rivalry over the last decade which has dwindled due to the lack of San Jose’s presence in the postseason.

With the Sharks now headed back to the playoffs, this would be a marquee matchup around the league.

The games this season have nearly all been 1 goal games with tight checking and plenty of action after the whistles which suits both teams style of play.

The teams are evenly matched for the most part of offense, but the Ducks have a slight edge on the back end and in net which should give them the edge in this series.

What will be the difference in this series?

Depth Scoring 

Most would think it would be goaltending given the stellar performances from Martin Jones, Frederik Andersen and John Gibson this season. I think Jones still has yet to prove himself and the post-season pressure is a whole different monster that Gibson and Andersen already have a good taste of.

The depth scoring on the Ducks has won them games throughout the year when stars are not producing. San Jose has some young bottom six talent that can surely put the puck in the net but not in the abundance of the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks fourth line of Ryan Garbutt, Nate Thompson and Shawn Horcoff have a combined 81 games of playoff experience.

The Sharks fourth line has two players in Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson with zero playoff experience and then there is seasoned veteran Dainius Zubrus with 92 playoff games on his own. The combined experience of three veterans for the Ducks should prove to help exploit the youth of the Sharks forwards.

Ducks Defense

The answer the Ducks whoas earlier in the season was a restructuring of their style of play. Bruce Boudreau realized that in order to win games, they have to keep the puck out of their own net first.

Since the month of October, the Ducks have gone on a tear going 41-17-8 since and hovering near the top of the NHL goals against/game mark currently now sitting in 2nd.

The strong defense has lead to resurgent offense and the rhythm has been clicking. The help from the Sharks defense is primarily based around Brent Burns who is a monster. If the Ducks can take care of him, the opportunities on defense should be nullified and again give the Ducks the edge.

Nashville Predators

  • 2016 Record (39-24-13) 91 Pts
  • Currently in 1st Wildcard spot
  • Ducks went 1-2 against Predators this season

The Ducks have bad memories against the Predators in the playoffs 

The 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs ended much sooner for Anaheim than most anticipated. The teams were evenly matched (4th and 5th seeds) but the Predators dominated the Ducks throughout the series and particularly in Anaheim.

Granted, the Preds are without Ryan Suter from this roster and considerably weaker on the back end but this team has a knack for gaining momentum at the right time.

What will be the difference in this series? 

The Star players

The Ducks have the edge on defense but the rest of the lineups are well matched. The difference in this series will be which of each teams top skaters bring their ‘A’ game on any given night.

For the Ducks that is Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Cam Fowler (possibly even a few more) and for the Predators its’ Shea Weber, James Neal and Filip Forsberg.

Both teams have adequate supporting talent that will lead to victory if the stars out play on another. Again I would give the edge to the Ducks because of the plethora of proven forwards at their disposal, but don’t completely write off a Predators team that can get hot fast and ruin the Ducks cup dreams.

Next: Anaheim Ducks are Surging Ready for the Playoffs

Both teams will prove tough series’ for the Ducks in the first round but will undoubtedly make them stronger for the later rounds. Either way, the first round will make for some exciting playoff hockey.