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Someone Didn’t Half-Ass It: Ducks-Stars Series Preview

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm

A good friend of the blog, Ducks’ fan Pierre Canard took some time out of his hectic schedule to take a look at the Ducks-Stars first round series. His schedule is more packed than mine and he knocked this bitch out in an hour. Stick tap to him, shame on me.

Stars+Ducks+Hockey_33847737_775397What a season it has been for the Anaheim Ducks. They start off the season with injuries and many questions on defence, a forward core that many said over preformed the season before, and an embarrassment of riches between the pipes. Despite projections league wide from analysts and fans (myself included) that the team may be due for a slight market correction from their 2013 Pacific Division win. I guess the Ducks heard/read about that, starting with an impressive first half that included a ridiculous 20-0-2 home record, eventually clinching the Pacific Division AND #1 Western Conference seed, finishing a single point behind Boston in the President’s trophy race. The Ducks’ D rallied around workhorses Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler (ed. note: #CamSucks), with role players and rookies stepping up to provide a solid depth corps. Scoring came easily (the team was second in the league in goals for), and goaltending, well, more on that later.

To start off the playoffs, Anaheim meets an old nemesis, Dallas. The long time “old alignment” Pacific rivals have a storied (but somehow forgotten) history, dating back to the battles in the 90’s that saw the teams really try to injure each other’s star players (look up the nights the late Ruslan Salei nearly killed Mike Modano or Craig Ludwig elbowing Teemu Selanne in what seemed to be a scene out of an MMA match). The teams met once in the playoffs, during the 2002-2003 Mighty Ducks stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final in a very exciting series.

Dallas saw a return to the playoffs (barely) after six years away from the big dance. The Stars relied heavily on the Tyler Seguin-Jamie Benn combination offensively, and relied on a scrappy defense led by Alex Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar, with the always solid Kari Lethonen standing tall in net.

The X Factors:

Goaltending: Anaheim showed off its goaltending depth with Jonas Hiller winning 29 starts, Frederik Andersen 20 wins, and highly touted prospect John Gibson winning all three starts. Hiller is the only playoff tested goalie Anaheim has, but seemed to lose his game towards the end of the season, eventually leading him to be a healthy scratch for the last two weeks of the season (eventually culminating in a series of published quotes showing his displeasure). Andersen and Gibson have shown cool composition on other major stages, but the Ducks self created goalie controversy may come to haunt them .

Slow Starts: Anahiem has had many come from behind wins this season, something that concerns most fans, as the Ducks usually don’t start to play until the second period.

Bruce: Coach Bruce Boudreau has won it all at other levels in his career, but he hasn’t had much NHL level playoff success. Is this the year he goes deep?


Scoring: The Stars will need Seguin and Benn to show up and cannot afford to see their secondary scoring wilt if they want to stand a chance in the playoffs.

Experience: While the Stars do have leadership that has won before, the Stars are a very young team and will rely on the leadership that veterans like Erik Cole, Ray Whitney, Tim Thomas and Sergei Gonchar can provide. This is the first time in the “big show” for most of the Stars youth. If the seasons for both teams are a predictor, it will be a baptism by fire.

Defense: Dallas will require its quiet and relatively unknown defense to keep them in the series plain and simple. The Ducks are capable of being a big, nasty team.

The Ducks will win if: They continue to get secondary scoring, goaltending sorts itself out and the Ducks play like they can. Getzlaf and Perry always are threats, and supplemental goal scorers Nick Bonino, Andrew Cogliano, Mathieu Perrault Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri need to keep contributing. Just a guess but Frederick Andersen starts, and is backed up by John Gibson. Leadership on the team and the team motto of “unfinished business” stemming from last year’s early playoff exit should hopefully motivate the team.

The Stars will win if: Scoring holds up, the Defense holds up and Dallas plays their game. As noted above, the scoring department is Dallas’ biggest worry- without it, they are in tough. Dallas’ defense will need to handle the size and speed Anaheim will throw at them, especially the Getzlaf-Perry-Maroon line. Dallas won the regular season series 2-1, and all of the games were very chippy, with Stars winger Ryan Garbutt frustrating the top line of Anahiem. If they can keep this up, Dallas may get Anaheim off their game.

Season series: ANA 6-3 W , DAL 6-3W, DAL 2-0W- of note Hiller started all of these games and was pulled in favor of Andersen in the sole Ducks win.

Prediction: Oh boy this is closer than most Ducks fans want to admit. I am obviously biased but Anaheim probably edges out the Stars. I don’t want to see it, but if there is an upset in the first round, it could be in this series. Ducks in 6.

I am Pierre Canard, and I would like to thank Ryan for the opportunity to post here. Feel free to have at it with me on Twitter @SargeTheDuck. Be sure to follow @icemancometh (Ducks beat reporter Eric Stephens) and @duckscolorman (Ducks Radio Dan Wood) for Ducks news, and super fans @ACKyleNichols and @duckstalkshow for excellent fan perspectives.

Additionally, follow the trio of misfits from the Battle of California; Earl Sleek, Spade and Jer. They’re funny and that sets them apart from the rest of the Ducks’ fan base.

  1. […] Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview. […]

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