Expert Panel: What is the Ducks Optimal Playoff Scenario?

ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 19: Nick Shore
ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 19: Nick Shore /

Only 18 days remain in the 2017-18 NHL regular season. This Week Pucks of a Feather asked our experts: What is the Ducks optimal playoff scenario to reach the Stanley Cup Finals?

Michelle Bruton – Senior Editor, FanSided

If the Stanley Cup playoffs began today, the Anaheim Ducks would land the Nashville Predators in the first round. On the surface, that doesn’t seem ideal for the Ducks. Anaheim has 86 points on the year, 20 fewer than Nashville. The Ducks have also only beaten six quality teams, as compared with the Preds’ nine.

But actually, this could prove to be more of a nightmare matchup for the Predators. On paper, Nashville is better than Anaheim. But this matchup has upset written all over it. Remember that the Ducks took the Predators to Game 7 in 2016. Nashville has the upper hand in these teams’ recent clashes, but the Ducks know how to get under their skin.

Ed Stein – Site Expert, Pucks of a Feather

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If I had my druthers, I’d prefer Anaheim to finish second in the Pacific with the Flames third, so they could face each other in round one. The Ducks, however, could ruin my ideal scenario tonight by beating Calgary in the Saddledome. On to “Plan Z.”

Plan Z starts with Anaheim finishing second in the Pacific Division. As crazy as this sounds, I’ll take LA in round one. I don’t think the Kings defense has been as solid in front of goalie Jonathan Quick as in years past.

Additionally, if something happens to Quick, Anaheim will have a fine time shooting the puck at Jack Campbell. A second big benefit of an LA-Anaheim series is that there is almost no travel involved which is a great way to start a playoff run.

There is one more first round benefit which needs to be discussed. In this scenario, San Jose is the first wild-card team. They would play Vegas in the first-round. It will be fascinating to see what wins out after an 82 game schedule, Vegas’ speed or San Jose’s physicality.

Whatever happens, the winner will be tired and sore for the second-round and will face an Anaheim team whose longest trip was an hour (or so) bus ride the past 10 days.

Next: Ducks Eye View of the Western Conference Playoff Race

The Conference Finals becomes a battle of attrition, so the healthier the Ducks can stay, the better. Either Nashville or Winnipeg will emerge from the Central Division and each team presents its own challenges.