Anaheim Ducks Season Preview
After months of waiting following their first round elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators, the Anaheim Ducks' season opener is right around the corner.
Friday morning the puck will drop in Helsinki, Finland as the Ducks look to take on the Buffalo Sabres to begin their 82-game 2011-2012 season.
There is much excitement and anticipation surrounding the Anaheim Ducks and the Western Conference, as it has year after year proved itself to be an extremely difficult division to play in.
During the 2010-2011 season, only 20 points separated the first-ranked team, the Vancouver Canucks with 117 points, and the eighth place team, the Chicago Blackhawks with 97 points. While that may not appear so impressive, consider this: the Blackhawks only made it into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth with a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars. To say that the Western Conference faces stiff competition in this upcoming year is an understatement.
The competition intensified during the off-season as each team traded, re-signed and drafted players like young kids trading baseball cards with friends.
While the Anaheim Ducks did not make any earth-shattering changes to their roster this summer they did acquire Andrew Cogliano from the Edmonton Oilers to help strengthen their core group of players: Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. Cogliano was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers with the hopes that he will bring speed and goal scoring to the team. A versatile player, Cogliano is expected to finally have the teammates to help him recreate an amazing rookie season that he has yet to duplicate Look for Cogliano to have a positive impact on the team. Teemu Selanne re-signed with the team as he looks to help the Ducks make yet another run for the Stanley Cup, after winning it with them in 2007, in what is to be his final season in the NHL.
Perry was the 2011 Hart Memorial Trophy Winner as the league's Most Valuable Player, and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals during the regular season (with 50). He had an unbelievable season with the 50 goals, making 48 assists, and acquiring 98 points in 82 games. He was a first round pick (28th overall) by the Ducks back in 2003, and he surely has not been a disappointment to the team or to the fans. Look for Perry’s success to provide inspiration for his line-mates and help bring out even more amazing play from them.
The often overlooked Lubomir Visnovsky is one of Anaheim’s secret silent weapons. Although he was not nominated, he finished last season six points ahead of Norris Trophy winner Niklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. He has more of an influence on the team than many realize, and there is good reason to believe that he will continue to give it his all and help this team reach its potential. Last season, he scored 18 goals, made 50 assists and acquired 68 points in 81 games.
The one concern for the Ducks' defense is their up and coming player Cam Fowler.
Only 19-years-old, Fowler made an grand entrance into the NHL that caught attention league wide. He scored 10 goals, made 30 assists, acquired 40 points and served 20 PIM in 76 games last year.
So where does the concern arise, with such impressive rookie stats? Cue the sophomore slump.
Will it affect this budding NHL star this season or will he be able to avoid it? We are about to find out.
The great news for the Ducks is that their number one starting goalie Jonas Hiller is finally completely well and ready to play.
All in all, Anaheim is prepared to take on the juggernaut that is the Western Conference this season.
On a local scale, the Ducks have the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings to contend with, both of which made some amazing alterations to their teams as they too look to make a run for the cup.
If Perry’s inspiration can permeate throughout the rest of the team and bring out more consistent play, Anaheim has a solid chance of faring well this season. As long as Hiller is able to stay healthy, all signs point to solid goaltending in Anaheim.
While there is truly no way to predict how the season will pan out one thing is for sure: the 2011-2012 Anaheim Ducks are a force to be reckoned with.
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