Ducks rise from the pond and take 4th
When the season started the Ducks opened 0-3 and were outscored 1-13. It was very hard to not want to poke sharp objects into my eyes. Everyone, including me, wanted to kill Bob Murray for not doing anything about the Ducks defense. In the end he ended up looking like a genius.
The Ducks were in 8th for most of the end of season but in capturing the 4th seed, The Ducks are really where this talented team should be. The team boasts three players in the top 13 in scoring, the only team in the league with three, the top goal scorer and the top scoring defenseman. The Ducks are so loaded that ageless wonder and future hall of famer Teemu Selanne can't crack the top line.
No team would want to face the Ducks top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan. I have to say despite how dominate the line is, I never would have pictured Corey Perry leading the league in goals but that's what happened. Perry tore it up, literally, down the stretch scoring 19 goals in his last 16 games. Many at crucial moments in the game. It's hard to imagine that Selanne is 40 years old and might retire when he had his best season in four years. Selanne is now 27th all time in the NHL in scoring. The Ducks showed me something as a team when in consecutive games they came from behind in the final minutes of the third against the Stars and Flames to tie the game and send it into overtime where they eventually won it. They didn't get the win against the Predators the following night but their ability to come back from 0-3 and make it a one goal game further showed their resiliency in games they needed to win. That stretch will become invaluable for them during their playoff run. But we all knew the Ducks would potent on offense with their top two lines. What nobody knew about was how good their defense would be.
Lubomir Visnovsky emerged as a Norris caliber defenseman in his first full season as a Duck. Hard to imagine in his 10th season he set career highs in points and +/-. Cam Fowler emerged much faster than expected and while he has a long way to go, he definitely fits the mold of other top Ducks defenseman like Pronger and Niedermayer. Fowler scored many clutch overtime and shootout goals for the Ducks this season showing he possess natural hockey instincts. Toni Lydman was leading the league in +/- for almost the majority of the season before slipping. Luca Sbisa showed promise towards the end of the season and should cement a formidable blueline with Fowler for years to come. And o BTW the Duck lead the league in shots blocked which I believe a certain someone on the Checking Line didn't think that would happen in a million years. Can't remember who it was but you know who you are.
As far as goaltending I really think the Ducks boast the best trio of goalies in the league. Some teams boast a formidable duo, like Boston for instance, but how many boast three quality goalies? Murray did a great job of acquiring Ellis and taking a risk on Emery when it seemed not many teams wanted either. Both goalies were invaluable down the stretch, making many key saves. If Hiller ever regains his pre-vertigo form the Ducks will be fully loaded in net. I'd hate to say it but Murray deserves some props for GM of the year.
The Ducks are not a team that anyone would want to face right now especially with how hot they have been. They also still have a lot of players from the cup winning team of 2007, so they know how to grind it out in the playoffs. I can definitely see the Ducks making another run for the cup this postseason.