When you look at the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadians, you have the Ducks at 42-23-10 and the Canadiens at 34-36-6. At first glance you see a playoff team and an average team that will miss the playoffs. Yet, there is so much more to be said about this rollercoaster ride of a season for both teams.
On October 29th only ten games into the season, the Anaheim Ducks found themselves at 1-7-2. Very early into the season, the Ducks found themselves at the bottom of the standings.
The one thing a team needs when starting out a season so poor is veteran players to use their experience and leadership to spark other players to play better and make a playoff run. That is exactly what they did to put themselves in a playoff position going on a 41-16-8 run, including a 25-4-2 run.
Leading the Ducks into the winning ways was their two veteran forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Both Perry and Getzlaf are Duck draftees from 2003, and both also coming from the 1st round. Since the draft they have been one of the better dynamic duos in the league. This year nothing has changed, with Getzlaf and Perry leading the team with points.
Both players are also 30 years old, now into the latter parts of their careers. Who knows how many more years the Ducks will have with them both for a shot at the cup?
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 06-07, the cup has teased the Ducks mightily. Making the playoffs four of the last five years, including last year where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
If the season ended today, the Ducks would be matched up with a very talented San Jose Sharks team. Even with the Sharks high powered offense, I see the Ducks moving on if they do face-off.
Here are some key points why I think the Ducks can advance far in this year’s playoffs.
When special teams means the most is in the playoffs, and guess who has the best power play and penalty kill in the NHL. Yep, the Anaheim Ducks. With an 86.6% penalty kill and 23.8% power play anyone facing the Ducks is going to be dreaming for a low penalty ridden series.
Usually you will not hear me talk about how big teams are when talking about single games, but the playoffs are another story. With the largest weight average in the NHL, the Ducks can lay the wood. In a playoff series hits pile up and can take a toll on a team. Players will have their heads on a swivel when playing the Ducks.
The Canadiens story is exactly opposite of the Ducks. The Canadiens started out the season 13-2-1. They looked like a lock for at least a playoff spot. The Canadian born Carey Price in net looked unbeatable allowing only 3 goals or more in two games during the stretch.
With the second most points last year the Canadiens were disappointed in the playoffs losing in the second round to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Final.
Most Canadian fans would blame their woes on the loss of goaltender Carey Price who before being injured was 10-2-0 with a 2.04 goals against average. The problems though run deeper than an injured goalie.
Wing play. The Montreal wingers are their weak point. Other than their captain Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher no other winger cracks the top eleven point scorers on the team. What this means is they lack playmakers from the right and left wing on their team.
What to look forward to next year
Players that will bring them to the playoffs next year include a lot of young talent like Brendan Gallagher (23), Alex Galchenyuk (22), and Philip Danault (23). Don’t forget they will also get back who some consider the best goalie in the NHL in Carey Price. Also, they will lean on one of the best offensive defenseman in the league with P.K. Subban.
If you are a Montreal fan, don’t get to down on this season. I will not be surprised when next year they are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
What to watch: 3/29
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues
Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars