GDHQNHL15_2pg-Anaheim Ducks 2

NY Islanders Gameday HQ

opponents down in the defensive zone and chipped in with 30 points from the blue line. Cam Fowler returned to the form he showed in his rookie season as the top power play option on the blue line. Fowler scored 36 points in 70 games for the Ducks, but more importantly, he improved his game on the defensive end of the ice as well. Fowler registered a positive plus-minus rating for the first time in his career, improving from -28 in 2011-12 to -4 in 2012-13 and +15 last season. Sami Vatanen joins Fowler as another good offensive defenseman as he scored 21 points in just 48 games. The Ducks were relatively quiet in the free-agent market, but the biggest move they made was to acquire Clayton Stoner, formerly of the Minnesota Wild. Stoner is a big, physical presence at 6’4” and 213 pounds and figures to play as part of Anaheim’s third defensive pairing. Rounding out this group is Ben Lovejoy, a solid two-way defenseman who can fit in just about any situation. With Stoner being the only question mark in this group, the Ducks figure to have a solid but unspectacular defense this year. Goaltending For Ducks fans, it must have been a daunting sight to see John Gibson in the net during their second round series against the Los Angeles Kings. With an injury to starting goaltender Jonas Hiller and ineffective play by backup Frederik Andersen, the Ducks turned to the 20-year-old Gibson to take on the Kings. Even though Gibson had played in just three career regular season games, he proved a very tough opponent for Los Angeles, allowing nine goals in four games. With Hiller departing to Calgary in free agency, the Ducks were so impressed by Gibson’s performance that they’re bringing him back as the starter in 2014-15. Returning to back Gibson up will be Andersen, whose performance in the regular season was excellent, even if that performance didn’t translate to postseason play. Andersen played in 28 games for the Ducks, posting an outstanding 20-5 record with just a 2.29 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Those spectacular numbers across the board were enough for Andersen to get Calder Trophy consideration despite his relative lack of games played. Power Play Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Ducks last season was their head-scratching struggles on the power play. Despite featuring one of the most productive attacks in the NHL and two of the top forwards in the league, the Ducks could only convert on 16.0 percent of their power plays, ranking just 22nd in the NHL. The Ducks will also return without Nick Bonino, who was second on the team with seven power play goals last year. It’s difficult to imagine Anaheim struggling so much on the power play again. The Ducks were one of the best power play teams in the league in the 2012-13 season. With one of the most potent offensive attacks in the league, it’s more likely than not that last year’s dip was merely an aberration. Expect the Ducks to bounce back and become a strong power play team again this year. Penalty Kill The Ducks ranked 13th on the penalty kill last season, successfully shutting down 82.2 percent of opposing teams’ power plays. With Hampus Lindholm emerging as a top defensive option opposite Francois Beauchemin, the Ducks have a go-to defensive pair that can help shut down opposing offenses. Lindholm provides a big, physical presence who can keep opposing forwards away from the net while Beauchemin provides veteran savvy. Ben Lovejoy will also be a steady option on the penalty kill but the Ducks will have to figure out who their fourth defenseman will be. Clayton Stoner is a likely option due to his big frame but the Ducks might also turn to reserve big man Bryan Allen. The Ducks feature a penalty killing group with plenty of good players but no true superstars. As such, the Ducks figure to be an average penalty killing team once again in 2014-15. Prediction Anaheim will be one of the top regular season teams again, on the strength of an excellent offense and an improved power play. However, with average defense, mediocre puck possession, and inexperienced goaltending, there are too many questions for this team to answer. Anaheim will fall short in the Western Conference playoffs again. Scoreboard 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH Conf SF Conf QF DNQ Conf QF DNQ REGULAR SEASON 54-20-8 30-12-6 34-36-12 47-30-5 39-32-11 POINT TOTAL 116 66 80 99 89 SHOOTOUT RECORD 3-6 6-3 3-7 4-2 5-8 GOALS SCORED 266 140 204 239 238 GOALS ALLOWED 209 118 231 235 251 POWER PLAY % 16.0 21.5 16.6 23.5 21.0 PENALTY KILL % 82.2 81.5 82.0 81.3 79.3 Ryan Getzlaf PHOTO/NHL/Getty Images


NY Islanders Gameday HQ
To see the actual publication please follow the link above