Anaheim Ducks 2011-2012 Preview
A few months after an impressive season (47-30-5) but a disappointing postseason, the Anaheim Ducks are poised to make another run at the Stanley Cup in the 2011-2012 season. With talent such as captain Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan up front, defensive strength such as young Cam Fowler on the blue line, and strong goaltender Jonas Hiller back in net, the Ducks are a well-balanced team who don’t seem to have many obstacles between themselves and the ultimate goal. This article will take a look at the five main reasons why the Ducks will more than likely be playoff contenders at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
Photo credit: LATimes.com
Getzlaf’s first year wearing the ‘C’ was an impressive one. In 67 games, he racked up 76 points, and would surely have had more, had he not missed some time due to an injury. Along with teammates Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, Getzlaf was part of, arguably, the best line in hockey (more on that in a bit). Now entering his second year as captain, Getzlaf has had time to settle into the role and mature with it. He admitted this offseason that he should have spoken to former captain Scott Neidermayer more when he was first named captain, so as to better adjust to his new role. He’s had a full season and, unfortunately, a mostly-full offseason to settle in, and now should be confident enough in his strength, skills, and captaincy to really deliver to his fullest potential this upcoming season.
Rocket Richard award winner Corey Perry was an absolute beast last season. He led the Ducks in points with 98, and led the entire NHL in goals with 50. 11 of those 50 goals were game-winning ones, and he co-led the league in that stat along with Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin. Goal number 50 for Perry came with the third goal of a hat trick on April 6th, 2011 – not too shabby! Perry has now led the Ducks in points for the last two years. Even if he doesn’t contribute exactly what he did last season in the 2011-2012 season, he will still continue to be a powerhouse on this Ducks team. They would surely not have done as well as they did last season without Perry on the squad.
THE PERRY-GETZLAF-RYAN LINE
Was there a better line in the NHL this past season than the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line? No way. The three teammates combined for 103 goals and a total of 245 points. If Getzlaf had played a full season, those totals would surely be higher. The on-ice chemistry between the three is incredible. They always seemed to know exactly where to be at the right time, even when no one else (including the other team, the coaches, or the spectators) knew what to expect. All three guys came through in the clutch, and made some incredible plays while doing so. There is no doubt that the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line will dominate the NHL for the second year in a row this upcoming season.
Before suffering from problems associated with vertigo, Jonas Hiller was one of 2010-2011’s elite goalies. In 46 starts, he posted a 26-16-3 record with a 2.56 GAA and a save percentage of .924. His time away from the team left a noticeable hole in net, even though backup goaltenders Dan Ellis, Curtis McElhinney, and Ray Emery filled in admirably. While Emery was incredibly strong in net during his time with the Ducks (7-2-0), the team decided not to keep him, and will use Dan Ellis as Hiller’s backup this season. These days, Hiller seems to be fully recovered from the vertigo and associated symptoms, and if he can return to form this season, he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
The Ducks have a group of young guys that have been impressive so far, but also have time to grow and progress. At 19 and 20 respectively, defensemen Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa contributed plenty to last season’s journey to the playoffs. 20-year-old Kyle Palmieri put up 51 points in 62 games for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch last season. These three young talents could prove to be major contributors in this upcoming season, as long as they see a decent amount of playing time and barring any injury.
We all know that things happen and teams can go from the best to the worst in the matter of a few games. However, just a few weeks away from their season opener against the Buffalo Sabres in Helsinki, the Ducks don’t seem to have too many gaps in their foundation. If their big names continue to dominate as they did last season, and if others on the squad step up and possibly become big names in their own right, there is little to nothing stopping the Ducks from bringing the Cup back to Anaheim.