The 2015-16 NHL regular season is not over. The Anaheim Ducks still have still have sixteen extremely important games to play which will determine what the postseason will look like for them. Currently second place in the Pacific Division with a 37-20-9 record and only one point behind the Kings for first, it is safe to say that the Ducks will be one of the eight Western Conference teams heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There is still an opportunity for Anaheim to climb up the standings or move down to third place, only three points ahead of the Sharks before the season officially comes to an end. However, what would the postseason look like for the Ducks if the postseason started today? Who would they play? What would their road to the Stanley Cup look like?
Why don’t we have ourselves a little look-see?
If the playoffs started today, the second place Ducks would face-off against the state rival San Jose Sharks. As the higher-seeded team, Anaheim would experience home ice advantage.
The Sharks won the first go around with the Ducks this season back in October but fell victims to the Quack Pack the next three times, making Anaheim 3-1 in the season series. All of the games have been low scoring affairs with the highest goal total in one game being five (3-2 Ducks victory).
Anaheim appears to be the stronger team overall this season, ranking higher in defense, the power play, and the penalty kill. However, the Sharks have a stronger offense with more scoring capability. In the playoffs, it is rare to see many high-scoring battles as teams really tighten up defensively. For this reason, the Ducks will have the upper hand in what will be a hard-fought first round and move on to round number two.
If the Ducks are able to move passed the Sharks in round one, they will take on the winner of the Kings vs. Predators series in the second round. Both teams would be worthy opponents for Anaheim but seeing that the Hockey Gods love some playoff drama, it is only appropriate that the Ducks take on their hated rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.
This, my friends, would be a playoff matchup for the ages, true must-see hockey! Every time these two teams take the ice against one another, fans experience a hard fought battle that isn’t over until that final horn sounds. The Ducks have the advantage in the season series, winning three of the four games. However, no game has had a deficit of more than two goals.
It truly is a toss-up when deciding which team would move on from this series as the victor. It is not outrageous to expect Anaheim and Los Angeles to go the full seven games. Whoever did make it out of round two alive would be quite exhausted from all the work they had to put into moving on.
Western Conference Finals
If Anaheim was able to eliminate the Kings in the second round, the road to the cup would not get any easier. The second half of the bracket for the Western Conference will consist of Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, and St. Louis. These are all worthy opponents, minus the Avs who would get beaten down by the Blackhawks in round one.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the favorites to represent the west in the Stanley Cup Finals and would most likely be the team to take on the Ducks if they were to make the conference finals. The two teams have played each other on three occasions this season, with Chicago taking victories in two.
Just like last year’s Western Conference Finals, this would be another dogfight. Anaheim could very well end up being the team that wins the west but you can bet your bottom dollar that the Blackhawks will have different plans.
Stanley Cup Finals
Now let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here! Contrary to what many were saying a few months ago, the Anaheim Ducks are true Stanley Cup contenders. However, they are not the only ones that fit into that category. The road to the Lord Stanley’s Cup would be a brutal one for the Ducks but the possibility is there. For now, we will just have to enjoy the ride and see what happens.
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John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.