In 2007, the Anaheim Ducks were on top of the hockey world. Led by a star-studded defense that consisted of legendary names such as Rob and Scott Neidermayer and Chris Pronger, and stars on offense such as Temmu Selanne, the Ducks would go onto win the Stanley Cup, becoming the first team from California to win the Stanley Cup. With a young Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on that team as well, it seemed as though Anaheim would be able to continually come back to this stage and win more Stanley Cups.
10 years have passed since that moment and do you know how many Stanley Cup Finals the Ducks have played in since? The answer: zero. In fact, since 2009, the Anaheim Ducks have only won four total playoff series. Four, in eight years. Based on this past history, it was easy for a lot of fans to overlook the Ducks and not give them credit for being a really good team this year, finishing the season with 105 points and winning the Pacific Division for the 5th year in a row.
Obviously, this team is judged on their playoff performance and not by winning a lot of regular season games and division titles. But the Ducks would put everyone on notice, sweeping the Calgary Flames in the first round, winning the clinching game last night by the score of 3-1 on the road. If that was not impressive enough consider this tidbit of information as well; the Ducks have not lost a game in regulation since March 10th. That means that they are not only the hottest team in the NHL right now, but that by the time the Western Conference Semifinals start for them, they may go two whole months without losing a game in regulation, including playoffs.
Another reason why the Ducks are primed to get back to the Stanley Cup Final is that all their top competitors in the West do not look as good as in years past. The Blackhawks are on the verge of getting swept in the 1st round by Nashville, San Jose is struggling with playoff newcomer Edmonton, and St. Louis just allowed Minnesota to get back into their series by losing the potentially series-clinching Game 4 at home.
On top of this, the Ducks have a very good roster themselves. They have not one, not two, but three centers (Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Antoine Vermette) who all win over 50% of the faceoffs that they take. They also consist of a deep group of forwards with players such as Jakob Silverberg, Nate Thompson, and Andrew Cogliano all a part of the team’s third and fourth lines.
The Ducks also boast a young, talented group of defensemen who allowed the third-fewest goals in the league and the next great American goalie in John Gibson.
All of this has to make even the staunchest of Ducks haters, admittedly I have been one for the past few years, believe that the Anaheim Ducks, if not already the favorites to win it all, should at least be the favorites to win the Western Conference.