Anaheim Ducks Need Bounce Back Years From Several Key Players

corey perry anaheim ducks preview

Corey Perry will need to improve on his 60 point season from 2011/2012 if the Ducks are to secure a playoff position in 2013. (Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

Having made the playoffs 5 of the last 6 seasons with a core of young developing star players, the Ducks were thought by most to be a lock for a Western conference playoff spot at the beginning of the 2011/2012 season. However, the team stumbled badly out of the gate last year, posting a 7-13-4 record in their first 24 games.  Their early season struggles inevitably led to the firing of long tenured coach Randy Carlyle, but it would be remiss to ignore the fact that several key Ducks players simply did not play up to their usual high standard.

Leadership Needed…

ryan getzlaf ducks

Ryan Getzlaf (Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE)

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for the Ducks last season was the lack of production from captain and perennial point-per-game player, Ryan Getzlaf.  Getzlaf posted just 11 goals and 57 points in 2011/2012, his lowest point totals since his rookie season, despite playing all 82 games for the first time in 4 years.

As the straw that stirs the drink on the Ducks’ top line, Getzlaf’s elite playmaking ability is a key cog in Anaheim’s offense and after still posting a relatively respectable 46 assists last year, there is no reason to believe that this aspect of his game won’t continue in 2013. However, for a team that was held to 1 goal or less 21 different times last year, Getzlaf’s 11 total goals simply isn’t good enough and he will need to show the strong puck pursuit game and quick release that led to the several 20 goal seasons he’s enjoyed in the past.

The Bar Has Been Set…

Let’s be honest; if you expected Corey Perry to repeat his spectacular 2010/2011 season, you were probably setting yourself up for disappointment from the get-go.  However, it’s hard to blame any Ducks fans for being both surprised and disappointed that Perry followed up his career year with his lowest point totals in four seasons.

Coming off a 50 goal, 98 point campaign where he won both the Rocket Richard and Hart trophy, Perry scored 13 fewer goals and totaled just 60 points in 2011/2012 despite playing in 80 games. There are several factors that can be attributed to this drop in production; the struggles of line-mate Ryan Getzlaf, the ineffectiveness of the Anaheim power play early in the season, but with great play comes great expectations and Perry fell short of those. Perry has proved that he can put this team on his back, and if they open the 2013 season as they did the last, he will need to do so in order to help this team creep into a playoff spot.

Forward Progression…

Cam Fowler (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

Cam Fowler had an up-and-down 2011/2012 season, and for the most part, failed to consistently replicate the offensive prowess he showed in his rookie year.  After a 40 point campaign, Fowler followed up with a rather average sophomore season, totaling 29 points in a full 82 games last season.  While this drop in offensive production could be attributed to the Ducks’ overall struggles last year or the now infamous “sophomore slump,” it was Fowler’s team worst minus-28 that should be most concerning for fans. He’s going to have to shore up his defensive play so he can be relied upon 5 on 5 in order to acquire the necessary ice time he needs to be a factor offensively. Fowler is an incredible skater with elite vision and puck-moving ability and the Ducks would love to have him on the ice 22+ minutes a night, but he will need to prove that he can be defensively responsible enough to warrant such minutes throughout the 2013 season.

A New System…

The hiring of Bruce Boudreau mid-way through last season injected some much needed energy into a lackadaisical Anaheim team. The Ducks went 27-23-8 under Boudreau’s guidance to finish off last season; a vast improvement after winning just 7 of their first 25 games to open the year. The team appeared to thrive under the more wide open offensive style Boudreau implemented and the Ducks will look to carry this momentum into 2013 but will need to rely heavily on bounce back years from star players like Getzlaf, Perry, and Fowler.

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