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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The ANAHEIM DUCKS SPR by The Colonel

on 24 September 2008

From Stanley Cup Champion to first-round playoff elimination in less than one year. Ouch. But was this not expected? And what will the start of the 2008/9 regular season bring?

To begin with, the Ducks are one of only nine NHL teams to secure a playoff birth in each of the three seasons since the Lockout year. They have done so with an average rating of +5 against the PQC. This is all good news for Ducks fans. Of note, however, is that last season the Ducks:

  • Followed a hard-fought 21 playoff games to raise the Stanley Cup with only 104 days to recover until their first pre-season game

  • Had a regular season start which included five games in eight days on the road beginning with a week in London, England

  • Began the season with no Scott Niedermayer, Mathieu Schneider, Teemu Selanne or Jean-Sebastien Giguere all of whom they won more games with than without.
The above would have some measure of adverse affect on any team no matter their level of toughness. In an NHL where the difference in missing the playoffs equals less than five games in an 82-game season for fully two-thirds of eliminated teams, the Duck’s performance last year dropped off 1/2 of a game in every 10. A fatigued team, with only three skaters playing in all 82 games, and showing a noticeable decrease in overall performance, maybe should not have been the first-round favorite in their meeting with a confident Dallas Stars team.

Such pessimism was absent heading into last season's playoffs, however. It is difficult to hear above the drumbeat of the Detroit-Wins-The-Cup-Again bandwagon right now, but such cynicism may not be so well-founded this year. While half of all roads to The Cup lead through a very tough Western Conference, as a bottom line, it is a pretty safe bet that the Ducks will come ready to play and should find themselves as one of the teams securing a playoff berth.

The Ducks’ first 10 games of the season are played 9 – 27 OCTOBER. Our thorough research (displayed in the PQC performance graph above) indicates that in that timeframe, Anaheim earns an average PQC rating of 5.8 and about 11 points in the NHL standings. In their Stanley Cup winning year, the PQC also tells us the Ducks actually clinched their playoff berth by 27 OCTOBER. So examination of Anaheim’s performance from their first leap over the boards bears close scrutiny.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations into late OCTOBER are:

  • Overall Anaheim has evenly split their first 10 games with 15 Wins and 15 Losses since the Lockout.

  • They have lost all three road-openers.

  • They tend to win 75% of the time at home and only 21.4% on the road.
OGA will be measuring the Ducks against this somewhat average play during the first 10 games, their average PQC Rating, and the performance of all other NHL teams, in order to provide you in-depth analysis in Anaheim’s Game 10 Report, (due to season subscribers by 2pm Central on 26 OCTOBER and available for order from the On Goal Analysis web site by 2pm Central on 27 OCTOBER). [See a sample G10R here… ]

Is Anaheim going to clinch a playoff berth by the end of OCTOBER as they did in the 2006/7 season? Will it take them as late as 25 MARCH like in the 2006/7 season? OGA will report soon so you can be in the know.

More to follow. Until tomorrow and the Atlanta ThrashersSeason Preview Report (SPR), this is The Colonel signing off...


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