The first week of Ducks Daily here at Anaheim Calling is officially in the books. Before we get into what I’ve actually written here, I just wanted to take a quick second to thank everyone who’s read, commented, and shared Ducks Daily this week.
At the end of the day, it’s the readers that keep this thing going, so thank you. Here’s to many more weeks to come.
Another Division Banner (Probably)
Let’s assume Anaheim wins the Pacfic Division. Who gets the credit? At the end of Bruce Boudreau’s coaching tenure, the common refrain was that ultimately, those Division banners meant nothing when juxtaposed to repeated playoff failure. That leaves one to wonder how management views this season internally.
Does it validate the hiring of Randy Carlyle, or can playoff success be the only acceptable form of validation? Let’s just say that Bob Murray’s end-of-season press conference will be must-watch television.
About The Coaching
If anything, the takeaway from this season is pretty simple: even with a downgrade behind the bench, it’s hard to truly take a step back with the solid core that Anaheim possesses.
The blueline is easily one of the best in the league, while the nucleus of Ryan Getzlaf, the Kesler line, Rickard Rakell’s 33 goals, and the rise of some young forwards simply gets you places in the NHL. Now just imagine if this team had a real fourth line.
Good Goaltending Matters (Shocker)
The biggest difference between this year and last year’s Ducks might be in net. Anaheim’s .921 team save percentage is well above the .913 league average. In 2015-16, they posted a .919 mark with a .915 league average. As lauded as Frederik Andersen was in Anaheim, Jonathan Bernier’s .917 save percentage this season is actually equal to Andersen’s last year. Granted, it took a Herculean late-season push for Bernier to get there, but it’s interesting nevertheless. On top of that, Anaheim has the best penalty kill save percentage in the league. Pretty good season for team goaltending coach Sudarshan Maharaj.
Gibson Is Still The Man
You think John Gibson is a fan of Randy Carlyle? pic.twitter.com/cT5iFQix9Y— Felix Sicard (@Felix_Sicard) April 7, 2017
John Gibson didn’t sound too enthusiastic about Randy Carlyle describing Anaheim’s goaltending situation as “1A-1B”. Maybe that irritation is what propelled him to perhaps his best game of the season last night — a 37-save shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Gibson’s been quietly excellent all year (.922 save percentage), validating Murray’s decision to keep him over Andersen in the process. The only real concern with him moving forward is his health. Part of that may have to do with his mechanics — he stills spends a lot of energy flailing around in the crease, as opposed to staying compact and controlled. His baseline only gets higher if he can figure that out.
Home Ice Might Actually Matter
It looks like the Ducks will either play Calgary or Nashville in the first round. Home ice will be critical for Anaheim, as they’ve been a top-ten possession team at home in the last 25 games. On the road, they’ve been near the bottom of the league.
It’s become fashionable in recent years to say that home ice doesn’t matter, but it’s clearly an advantage for this year’s Ducks. Both the Flames and the Predators boast extremely talented rosters, but Anaheim might be the favorite in either series thanks to home ice alone.