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Monday, August 31, 2009

OGA SPR: The Anaheim Ducks – The Colonel

This is the first of 30, daily On Goal Analysis Season Preview Reports (SPRs) as we head into training camps and the season. Let's start or look ahead with The Anaheim Ducks...

Last Season versus the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC): Called at Tee Time – out of the Playoffs – at Game 60 /18 February 2009 but finished at 4.55 with the Western Conference No. 8 seed as one of only six teams to qualify for the Playoffs every year since the Lockout. They played below their average post-Lockout PQC all season, but stand as one of only three teams incorrectly called either IN or OUT of the Playoffs by OGA – a Shot Off The Post – during the 2008/9 season. Their play from Game 41 through 70 was sub-standard, winning only an average of 4.5 games in every 10. It was the Game 71 to 82 stretch that saved their bacon and brought them to within one goal of defeating Detroit.

Post-Lockout average PQC and what to expect this season: Anaheim has a 5.01 PQC average over the last four, post-Lockout seasons. They stand as one of the top three teams in terms of winning play and have won one Stanley Cup Championship since the Stoppage. How do we gauge them against the PQC and know they have charted a proper course toward the playoffs again this season? In their first 10 games, they hover around five wins, sometimes beginning with a dismal start like last season’s 0-4 step off. If they finish the first 10 games with five or less wins, you still will likely not be able to tell until after the Olympics just how the season will turn out for them. But if they have a very strong start, you may see them replicate something more like the 2006/7 season that forces OGA to call them Chasing Stanley – IN the Playoffs – before November rolls around.

So how does this team look heading into the 2009/10 season?

Team Play: ISSUE – “The best defense is a good offense…” The Ducks seem to have solidified their top two lines with proven talent that can score and win games. The Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan line looks to be number one, with a possibility of Lupul(?)-Koivu-Selanne on a second, quite capable scoring line. Other pairings are TBD, but Christensen is likely out until a bit into the regular season and Getzlaf may not play until October as they recover from off-season surgeries. These injuries and line combos to be determined are ‘complimented’ by a less robust defense than last season with two solid pairs and others. These defenders are likely to both jump up into the scoring play and, in the process, likely surrender more SOG against. The good news is their two healthy goalies in the crease are talented enough to save the team’s bacon on many nights and will preserve some W’s. Look for this team to enter the Playoffs for the fifth consecutive time, however, and make it a couple of rounds. It remains to be seen if they will move on to the Conference and/or Stanley Cup Finals.

Fantasy Value: Anaheim has several players with good fantasy value. The entire top line stands as a good choice for forwards this season. You can say the same about Selanne (first choice) and Koivu (second choice) on the second line for Pool depth positions. If the analysis we read is true, Koivu is more the set up man with Selanne the finisher, they click well with each other, and this may be Selanne’s last season, so look for a strong year from him. Lupul is not a bad choice as well, but he would fall farther down our priority list in any pool draft. Scott Niedermayer and/or Ryan Whitney are good choices for your defenders, but we wouldn’t delve too much deeper into the team’s blueline than that. And lean toward Hiller over Giguere if you are taking one of their goalies – scuttlebutt is that Hiller is likely to play more games this season than Giguere will.

Schedule Analysis: ISSUE – Six back-to-back game pairs in the Game 31 – 50 stretch. For a primary analysis of the team’s overall 2009/10 regular season schedule which includes a visit by the 2009 NHL Entry Draft’s Number 1 Pick to the Honda Center, go to this link.

Next up tomorrow is the Atlanta Thrashers’ 2009/10 SPR…

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