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Posts Tagged ‘Toni Lydman’

Previewing the Ducks-Red Wings Series, with a Special Guest Host

In Hockey on April 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Today April 30, 2013 marks a special day in the history of this blog, as we are running our first ever guest piece. We here at The D.A.R.T. Board enjoy visitors, and joining us for a last minute preview of the Anaheim-Detroit series is the one and only Pierre Canard. As the only Ducks’ fan I have ever come in contact with, I had a moment of weakness when I asked Pierre to lend his thoughts to the Ducks’ first round matchup.

So boys and girls, without further ado, here is Pierre’s take on the Ducks-Wings series (which may not be as awesome as mine, which you can read here).

Anaheim started off hot and fast, posting an impressive record that was overshadowed by the Chicago Blackhawks historic streak. While the Ducks streak out of the gate went relatively unnoticed, the team comfortably “flew under the radar”, building up an impressive lead that, with the exception of a bit of a slide towards the end of the season, cemented the teams second Pacific Division title.

Detroit on the other hand, struggled out of the gate, (understandably so) in the Red Wings first season post-Lidstrom. The team saw the obvious lack of defensive depth exploited initially, and had struggled with injuries up front. Detroit closed out the season very strong, on the backs of Jimmy Howard, and the still reliable forward depth.

The teams faced off three times this season, with the road team always winning. Detroit won 2 games (back to back) in Anaheim, where the Ducks were outclassed.

I am obviously biased towards the Ducks, but the depth that Anaheim has had is something any team would desire. With 6 players with 10 or more goals, and even more depth throughout the line up, the Ducks are team that easily rolls 4 lines.Ryan Getzlaf (fresh off an extension) has returned to form, and the other omnipresent threats like Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry (who also re-signed with the Ducks), are complimented with pleasantly surprising performances from Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Palmieri. Defensively, this team is built very well, with Francois Beauchemin enjoying a career year, Sheldon Souray enjoying his own resurgence. Cam Fowler has been struggling with injuries this season, with solid depth further in the line up in Luca Sbisa, Toni Lydman and Bryan Allen rounding out the rotation. Ben Lovejoy, a mid season pickup was a revelation, has played his way into the lineup. The Ducks also enjoy a terrific depth in net, with Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller posting 15 wins each.

Detroit has seen Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Val Filppula get support from younger blood in Dan Cleary, Justin Abdelkader and Damien Brunner in scoring, but beyond the top 6, this team struggles mightily in scoring depth. (However Jordin Tootoo is a constant threat to Anaheim’s sanity; in his time with the Predators he was a constant thorn in the Ducks side, and always got the Ducks off their game). Defensively, Detroit simply has no real threats beyond Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall. The drop off cannot possibly be expected to compete in a long series. Jimmy Howard looks to carry the load for the Red Wings.

My Take:

Detroit and Anaheim always have great playoff battles- Detroit stormed into the playoffs, while Anaheim did cool off towards the end of the season. Detroit’s hot streak worries me; this is a team that can still do damage despite the depth limitations. Jimmy Howard quietly has had another good year, and is capable of stealing games for his team. Anaheim’s depth is intimidating, and should be able to wear down Detroit over the series. This will make for some great TV, and I have Anaheim winning the series in 6 games.

I would like to thank the owners of this blog for the opportunity to post my incoherent thoughts on this series. Feel free to agree/disagree/stir up some arguments with me on Twitter @SargeTheDuck.

And there you have it! If you like Pierre’s take on the Ducks, follow him on Twitter because there’s plenty more where that came from. If you didn’t like it, tell me and I’ll be sure to let Pierre know on the 7th of Never.

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2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

In Hockey on September 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

Anaheim Ducks

A Look Back at 2010-11
The Ducks were able to jump back into the playoffs last year after a one-year hiatus. Anaheim was powered by the play of their top line of Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, as well as the stellar goaltending of Jonas Hiller. Adding on to that, the Ducks got a performance from Teemu Selanne that was absolutely vintage. The Ducks got off to a slow start, but powered through the West in the second half, and all the way to the four-seed in the first round of the playoffs.

However, they were dealt a major blow down the stretch, when Hiller was diagnosed with vertigo and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. The Ducks did lose their all-star goaltender, but they got a great effort from two goaltenders that had been in exile. Dan Ellis and Ray Emery eached played great down the stretch, but in the playoffs, the two faltered and the Ducks were badly beaten by a Nashville squad that lit up the Ducks’ defense throughout. But at the beginning of the year, I would have called you a fool if you wanted me to believe the Ducks would have grabbed the four-seed. Perhaps Hiller would have been a difference-maker in the playoffs, but we’ll never know. Grade: B+ (My expectations for them were much lower than where they finished.)

A Look Ahead to 2011-12

Corey Perry was a beast in the second half last year to push the Ducks into the playoffs

Forwards
The Ducks’ top line is back once again and expected to terrorize defenses once again this year. Perry, Ryan and Getzlaf are all massive players with great skill, and they compliment each other perfectly. They don’t get the credit as the top line in the NHL (like they should) because they play in Anaheim. With Perry winning the Hart Trophy last year and Ryan scoring the goal of the year last year, everyone has been put on notice. Perry scores, dishes and fights, and helped me win a pair of fantasy titles last year. But besides that, he scares the absolute hell out of me when he’s on the ice, against the Sharks, that is. Getzlaf might be the best playmaker in the league that doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Ryan might play third-fiddle to the three, but he’s easily the funniest of the trio based on everything he has to say on Twitter. These guys are a sure thing, and will be once again.

After the top line, the Ducks run into some problems with scoring. I’m glad Selanne announced his return before I wrote this, and we get one more year of one of the most exciting players of all time. He had a great year last year, but at 40 years old and coming off another knee operation, it will be interesting to see how he holds up this year. He’s going to play with either Saku Koivu or newcomer Andrew Cogliano as his center, and most likely Jason Blake on the left side. Aside from Selanne, those other options do not scare me. Cogliano could benefit from a change of scenery, and he’s going to need to produce more than he did in Edmonton for the Ducks. Blake and Koivu are winding down their careers, and the Ducks did a nice job getting some young legs in the fold.

In my opinion, someone on the lower lines is going to need to step up. The list of players includes Dan Sexton, Brandon McMillan, Nick Bonino, Matt Belesky and Kyle Palmieri. Each of these guys are young players, and with the exception of Palmieri, has had a chance to play on the Ducks’ second line in the past. Palmieri is a guy the Ducks have high hopes for, but they’re going to have to pay their dues on the bottom lines for the time being. However, with Blake, Koivu and Selanne known to break down at their age, they need to be ready at all times to step up. George Parros and J-F Jaques will take turns filling the enforcer role on the team.

The biggest issue for the Ducks will be the team’s health, and if one member of that top line goes down, the Ducks could be in big trouble due to their lack of depth. At least for the time being, because I feel that their young players that will play in the bottom six have the talent to be difference makers. It just won’t be an instant process. Grade: B

Lubomir Visnovsky posted career-best numbers for the Ducks last season

Defense
What was expected to be a weak spot for the Ducks last year was actually much better than some (see: myself) anticipated. They’ve easily got one of the league’s best offensice combinations on defense in the league. Lubomir Visnovsky could have easily earned a nomination for the Norris Trophy last year. He was a nice mentor for young defender Cam Fowler, who seamlessly stepped into the Ducks’ lineup as an 18-year old and gave the team a shot of youth, as well as a nice second option to man the Ducks’ point on the power-play.

Toni Lydman might have been the most underrated defender of last season, providing stay-at-home stability while producing his best offensive season to date. Francois Beauchemin was brought back last year, and he can still bring it with the best of them on D. Luca Sbisa could easily take a big step forward this year as the Ducks’ second bright young defenseman. The final spot should be occupied by Kurtis Foster, who came over from Edmonton in a deal for Andy Sutton this offseason. Foster won’t be counted on to provide the offense he was expected to give the Oilers, but having him as a third or fourth option is a nice luxury for the Ducks to have. Sheldon Brookbank, Matt Smaby and Matheiu Carle provide the Ducks depth. For a position that I felt was weak last year, this Ducks’ defense looks mighty tough and could handle an injury or two. Grade: B

Jonas Hiller will look to battle back from a bout with vertigo this season

Goaltending
No person on the Ducks could impact the team’s finish quite like Jonas Hiller. The good news for Ducks fans is that he says he feels great heading into this year. Hiller is the kind of goalie that the Ducks can count on to occasionally steal a game for them. The more rubber Hiller sees, the better he seems to play. And while I feel the Ducks’ defense is good, there will be nights where they give up 35+ shots. If Hiller’s headaches stay away, the Ducks are going to be just fine for the season. Ellis is back to backup Hiller, and he seemed to be rejuvinated by moving to Anaheim. I think that the Ducks should look to ease Hiller back in to the starting role, and Ellis should see quite a bit of time in the early part of the season. Jeff Deslauriers was brought in as insurance. Bottom line is that the Ducks will go as far as Hiller takes them. His health and the way he adjusts to getting back into games determines everything for them Ducks. Grade: B (If Hiller had no injury questions, I would say the Ducks are a dark horse to win the Cup.)

Prediction
They have a strong top line, deep defense and one of the game’s best goalies, when he’s healthy. They’re going to need to get some help from their younger players to take the pressure off of the monsters on the top line. It won’t be automatic, but I feel someone will step up for them. They also play in the league’s better conference and toughest division in the league, but they’ll be playoff bound once again. 3rd in Pacific, 7th in West.