Well we are now 2 games past the midpoint of the season, and after reading Randy Carlyle's answers to the Q&A at the skills competition I thought I would write some pro's and con's about the team and an outlook on the rest of the season.
1) Big Names Performing: Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Hiller, and more. With some noticeable exceptions (Blake, Sutton) the ducks are getting their money's worth when it comes to their higher paid players. It's a good sign to see, and if the ducks can find some consistent depth then they have a chance to remain in the playoff race.
2) Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa: We've seen it with our own eyes, the 19-year old kid is exceeding expectations and playing like a seasoned vet. Sbisa on the other hand is finally starting to play up to his potential, and when he plays physical can be an absolute force. Both are getting better with each game, and both are exciting to watch (especially when paired together). In a season when everyone was questioning the Ducks defense, its actually been fairly stable due in part to these two.
3) Toni Lydman: Speaking of defense, one major question was who on the Ducks was really a "top pairing" defenseman? Lydman has proven that he and Visnovsky are not only good, but one of the best top pairings in the NHL.
4) Hiller, Hiller, Hiller: After facing questions about whether or not he could handle a full season and if was good enough to carry a poor defense, the duck's net minder has, for most of the season, carried the team on his back. He's been outstanding all season, and if you want any proof watch the third period of the last game against Chicago. Simply put he's been the ducks MVP so far, and the man should be considered for the Vezina.
1) Terrible Schedule: Awful. Unbelievable. Ridiculous. While it's easy to blame the schedule for the team's poor play, it honestly has probably cost the Ducks a few games. More back-to-backs than any other team, two huge road trips, and that first few weeks of front loaded action for a team with a lot of new parts. The good news is the team came out with a good amount of points, and Carlyle has been banking on that. It should be easier from here, and the team knows it has to capitalize.
2) Line Changing/Struggling Offense: Injuries have hurt, but the team has still struggled to find constant chemistry and scoring. It was supposed to be teams strength, but instead the team is now wildly inconsistent and has had to rely on Hiller a lot.
3) Tough Western Conference: As I write this the pacific division has three teams with 47 points and the ducks have 48. It doesn't look like anyone is gong to all of a sudden drop off. A ton of talent, it might be this tight till the end.
Finally, Todd Marchant. The guy is supposed to be a defensive specialist, instead he has the lowest plus/minus by a wide margin, 4 points in 43 games which is third on the team for games played behind Ryan and Perry. I understand that he is supposed to be great on the PK, but its painful to watch him play sometimes and he's gotten so much time on that 3rd line. Please bench him and give Chipchara, Lappiere, or Bonino a chance. Seriously....I'm tired of watching him play SO much. Limited action I dont mind, and he seems to be a great leader so I 'm not saying we should get rid of him.