Our Anaheim Ducks Expert Panel: What is the Ducks biggest weakness heading into the playoffs?

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 22: Ryan Kesler
NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 22: Ryan Kesler /
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Anaheim Ducks
BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 6: Korbinian Holzer /

Ed Stein – Editor, Pucks of a Feather

The Anaheim Ducks biggest weakness headed into the playoffs is lack of a defensive depth. This issue isn’t anything new. Their lack of defensive depth has been on display since Sami Vatanen was traded to New Jersey.

Top Four

The Ducks top-four defensemen are Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, and Brandon Montour. Individually and as a unit, they are a solid group. Any NHL team would like to have any of them in their post-season lineup for several reasons.

First, all are plus skaters and Manson is second in the NHL among defensemen in +/-, with a +26 rating. That’s on a team up until a week ago had a goal differential hovering around even. Next, each one plays over 20 minutes a night and used in all situations. Finally, aside from their defensive prowess, three of them have over 30 points and the other, Lindholm, has 29 this season.

The Rest

The above situation brings us to the heart of the issue. Hockey is a 60-minute game, in regulation. Two defensemen on the ice come out to 120 minutes (depending on special teams) of game time. The top four average 22 minutes per night each (some higher, some lower).

Let’s say for argument sake, the top four average 24 minutes per game because its the playoffs. Coach Randy Carlyle can’t be thrilled at the prospect of having to use two of Marcus Pettersson, Francois Beauchemin, Kevin Bieksa, or Korbinian Holzer 10 to 12 minutes each per game.

Pettersson will be a good NHL defenseman soon, but the rookie is still green and his inexperience can be a problem. Holzer is at best a fill in and should have a great seat to watch the playoffs from the press box. Beauchemin and Bieksa (when he returns from a hand injury) have proven many times this season that the game has become faster than they are. At 37 and 36 years old respectively, their experience doesn’t overcome their physical limitations.

Next: Where does Troy Terry fit into the Ducks lineup?

Worst Case

If one of the top four gets injured, the Ducks will be in a world of trouble. Not only will someone have to step up to prime time minutes, but a player best left out of the lineup on most nights will have to play.