Takeaways: The First Round

Ronald Martinez

Teemu Selanne is still good at hockey, Nick Bonino is still Mr. Clutch, and Sami Vatanen is still somewhere else.

1. As commendable as Dallas' season was, they simply were not as good as the number one seed. A big part of the Ducks' success was their depth at all positions. Not quality or star power, mind you, but depth. Let's start with the forwards. When one line went cold, another one was there to pick up the goal-scoring slack. The fact that none of Ryan Getzlaf, Mathieu Perreault, Kyle PalmieriTeemu Selanne, Devante Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem, Matt Beleskey, and Daniel Winnik played in all six games and the Ducks still scored 3.33 goal per game says a great deal about the organizational depth up front.

2. I liked Bruce Boudreau's decision to sit Selanne in Game Four for the simple reason that he had been the Ducks' least effective forward at that point in the series. I was beginning to think he might have to sit more often against better teams like whichever one the Ducks will face in the second round, but then Game Six happened. It wasn't just his two assists, but they certainly helped. Throughout the second and third periods, Selanne was the fastest skater on the ice, getting to loose pucks and establishing the forecheck like he hasn't done in at least a year. Before the third period was halfway over, it was clear that Selanne had played the best game of his season. This gives me hope. It also gives me pause, because he played that game without Perreault. Is a Patrick MaroonNick Bonino — Teemu Selanne line the answer?

3. While we're on the subject of Nick Bonino, I'd like to take another look at his first goal of Game Six.

Anyone who has played hockey knows how downright impossible it is to get that much elevation on the puck from that close to the net. You can't fault Kari Lehtonen because he had every reasonable part of the net covered. [Ed. Note: I've played for the better part of a decade and a half and I'm still baffled by this. - Kyle]

4. The defense is tricky. Hampus Lindholm should be healthy by the time Round Two rolls around, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will be in the lineup. Ask Ducks fans whose place he should take, and you'll get three different answers. It is my admittedly controversial and probably unpopular belief that Bryan Allen played pretty well during the series, given how he usually plays. Yes, he iced the puck and turned it over more than you'd like him to, but his gap control was better than it usually is and he made his physical presence felt on the penalty kill. Luca Sbisa also impressed me, but much more so in Game Five than in Game Six. Mark Fistric was basically another Allen when he cracked the lineup. I don't like two Allens on the same pairing. Nobody should like two Allens on the same pairing. If it were up to me, Lindholm would draw in for Fistric. (This is all assuming Sami Vatanen is still locked up in Azkaban where he has no hope of ever drawing into the lineup for reasons that escape even the most prying of eyes.)

5. Goaltending is easy. Start Jonas Hiller.

6. Remember last time Getzlaf wore a face shield? I forget how many years ago it was, and I can't be bothered to look it up, but I'm pretty sure he said something about it obscuring his vision and making it harder for him to see the puck when it was near his feet. That may have been a factor in the turnover he committed in Game 5 that led to Jamie Benn's shorthanded goal, in which case it was almost certainly a factor in his decision to remove the face shield for Game Six.

7. Realignment obviously had to happen for the sake of teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, and Dallas Stars. And since it had to happen, a revamp of the playoff system had to happen. So I'm not complaining about it, and I'm not offering a better solution, but I am going to nitpick at one little thing. Remember in the past how you didn't know which series your second-round opponent was going to come from? I miss that a little bit. There were more possibilities, and it forced you to keep an eye on more teams. Take 2007, for example. After the Ducks defeated the Minnesota Wild in five games, they had to wait on the Vancouver-Dallas series that went all seven before they knew they were playing the Canucks. But if Dallas had won that seventh game, they would have ended up playing Detroit while the Ducks played the San Jose Sharks in the second round. With the new divisional playoffs, those little wrinkles can't happen anymore. It's a small thing, but it is a thing.

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