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2015-16 Ducks Season Preview: Special Teams

A middle of the pack penalty kill and amongst league worst power play did the Ducks no favors last season- can they improve this year?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to imagine that a power play able to regularly trot out the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Sami Vatanen could end up amongst the least effective in the NHL. Yet that's exactly what happened last season with the Anaheim Ducks, as the unit finished with the basement dwellers and played no insignificant role in forcing the team to post a seemingly unsustainable run of success in one goal games. The penalty kill, while better, was still nothing to write home about, finishing smack dab in the middle of the league.

That the Ducks were able to make a run at the President's Trophy without the benefit of top flight special teams last season was a remarkable feat, but not something the team should hope to repeat in the coming season. We'll explore the participants and producers from last year's units, as well as look at potential combinations for 2015-16.

Power Play

Team Stats
PP% Rank PP Opp PPG PP Period (1-2-3-OT) 5 on 3 4 on 3 Home % Road % SHGA
Anaheim 15.7 27th 235 37 88 - 74 - 74 - 1 2 / 11 1 / 3 16.1 15.4 6
Individual Stats
Ryan Getzlaf 234:02 3 10 13 46
Sami Vatanen 209:18 7 10 17 47
Ryan Kesler 206:01 5 6 11 57
Cam Fowler 192:35 1 8 9 25
Corey Perry 186:23 4 3 7 38
Patrick Maroon 154:59 1 6 7 17
Hampus Lindholm 126:27 0 6 6 18
Rickard Rakell 92:16 2 7 9 13
Jakob Silfverberg 48:00 2 2 4 6
Jiri Sekac 12:09 0 0 0 1
What To Expect

After woefully under-performing for the regular season, the Ducks power play kicked in to gear in the playoffs as Anaheim converted on 26.7 of their odd man opportunities. Still, when push came to shove in the Western Conference Final against Chicago the Ducks only managed two power play goals in the seven game series. Thus, assistant coach Brad Lauer was shown the door and in steps Jack Adams winner and former Mighty Ducks assistant Paul MacLean.

Last season the power play was dogged by too much perimeter passing, brought on by a mostly stationary 1-3-1 alignment. Players would occasionally get to the front of the net, but more often than not they would be at the side of the net so as to retrieve play from the corner and re-set. During MacLean's tenure with the Detroit, the Red Wings were famous for getting players to the front of the net (think Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen) and causing havoc with decisive puck movement off consistent motion from players in the attacking zone.

One has to figure that with the amount of offensive talent on the roster, Anaheim cannot finish near the bottom of the league with the man advantage again. The addition of Chris Stewart gives another player with 'get to the front of the net' size to go with Maroon, while hopefully having Vatanen will help as well. Vatanen's injury last season was a major derailment for the unit, with none of the other defenseman able to replicate his slick puck moving and shooting mentality. One would imagine that Rakell and Silfverberg will perhaps draw more significant roles as well- Rakell performed exceptionally in his limited opportunities last season and Silfverberg finished in a four-way tie for second most power play points last playoff with four.

Penalty Kill

Team Stats
PK% Rank TSH PPGA PP/PK Diff Diff Rank Majors Home % Road % SHGF
Anaheim 81.0 15th 274 52 -49:03 24th 37 84.7 77.6 9
Individual Stats
Ryan Kesler 178:54 1 3 26 6
Hampus Lindholm 152:40 0 0 11 2
Nate Thompson 145:06 1 1 20 2
Cam Fowler 144:42 1 2 17 4
Jakob Silfverberg 142:07 1 3 8 9
Andrew Cogliano 136:41 3 3 4 6
Ryan Getzlaf 131:35 0 2 11 8
Clayton Stoner 125:55 0 0 19 2
Sami Vatanen 118:57 1 1 24 3
Josh Manson 44:02 0 0 1 0
What To Expect

While nowhere near the problem that the power play was last season, Anaheim's penalty kill still could stand to improve in the coming season. All three of the other Conference Finalists finished above them in the regular season rankings, while at 84.0% in the playoffs the Ducks were the best of the teams that made it that deep in the postseason. Still, the kill let them down when it mattered most, as the Blackhawks scored five power play goals during the Western Conference Final, winning all three games where they converted with the extra man.

With the addition of PK virtuoso Carl Hagelin the unit stands to improve, as his 160:41 of shorthanded TOI was second most amongst Ranger forwards during the regular season, and his 41:33 was tops of the Blue Shirt forward corps while a man down in the playoffs. Francois Beauchemin was the defender called upon most to kill penalties during the playoffs, so his offseason move means a slot opens up that could be filled by one of the younger defensemen. Simon Despres saw the third most penalty kill time among defenders on the back end at 28:09 during the playoffs, and could be a viable candidate. It likely won't go to Kevin Bieksa, who was fifth amongst Canucks defensemen during the regular season with 112:41 of shorthanded time on ice.