After missing the playoffs in their 25th Anniversary season, can the Anaheim Ducks clean up their Stanley Cup window and return to the playoffs?
It is time for the Anaheim Ducks to bust out the glass cleaner! The clean portion of their Stanley Cup window has been shrinking from years of playoff letdowns and a 25th anniversary to forget. There are a couple of reasons the window has been muddied up enough that they need to bust out the heavy-duty cleaner and use some elbow grease.
Too Many Bugs
The wear and tear of many deep, physical playoff runs have been tough on some of the hobbled core players. The Anaheim Ducks have been bitten by the injury bug. A swarm of injury bugs akin to plagues of locusts, more or less. Some of these injuries have been self-inflicted and some have been random and cruel, and it has cost them, both literally and figuratively.
The front office’s timidness to make the big push has been their downfall. When the Ducks went to the Western Conference Finals against the Nashville Predators in 2017 and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, two things factored into those series ending in bitter agony. The first refers to the point above.
The players threw everything they had into physically dominating each series until they had nothing left to give. This ultimately caused significant damage to the players in the process. The price you pay for the Stanely Cup is never cheap, but the costs are painfully similar when a team is eliminated three rounds in.
Generic Isn’t Always Better Than Brand Name
The second, and arguably more important problem, was the front office and their inability to pony up and get that difference-maker. Game sevens get decided by closers and the Anaheim Ducks just didn’t have them. The players they usually counted on couldn’t muster it and their opponents did.
My belief is that if Bob Murray and the Samueli’s had opened up the pocketbook and given the Ducks a legitimate threat at the trade deadline, perhaps there would be two Stanley Cups seen through this now muddied up window. Now, let’s hope that we have some extra strength glass cleaner and some resolve to clean it up and get that window looking nice again.
Repurpose, Don’t Replace
I don’t believe it is time to tear out the old window and replace it with a new one, and I’m glad the front office seems to feel the same way. The pieces are mostly all there, just as they were once upon a time at the start of the 2000s.
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The kids are primed to step into bigger roles, just as the now-seasoned veterans did before them. The Anaheim Ducks have a goaltender, in John Gibson, who can carry a team on his back, just like they did then. Our defense is in dire need of a real game-changer, and that is the one true difference. However, the Ducks could have a player who is already in that position, primed to break out.
Our big three are all still under 30. I think this team is a couple of years from truly contending for a Cup, but I firmly believe that they are starting on that path this upcoming season and that makes me excited.
I see plenty of kids looking to get their chores done and go play hockey like they have since they first laced them up, and maybe soon, “Game 7… Ten seconds left, he gets the puck in the slot. He shoots… He scores! Ducks win!” won’t just be a kids dream, but will once again be the Anaheim Ducks reality.
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