The Anaheim Ducks are heading back to the postseason for the fourth year in a row under head coach Bruce Boudreau. Unlike years past, expectations for the Ducks could not be any higher as they are going into the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Anaheim were the favorites to hoist the cup before the 2015-2016 even began. Although they stumbled mightily out of the gate, the team has since righted all the wrongs and are right back where they should be. The window of opportunity is becoming smaller for the foundation that has made Anaheim the kind of team they have been in recent years. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler are now all in their thirties and are not getting any younger.
The window of opportunity is becoming smaller for the foundation that has made Anaheim the kind of team they have been in recent years. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler are now all in their thirties and are not getting any younger.
The time for the Ducks to win their second Stanley Cup in franchise history is now. Unfortunately, there are some key factors that may prevent the team from doing so.
There is no worse time for a team to get bitten by the injury bug than right before the postseason. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened to Anaheim. Over the past few weeks, key members of the Ducks’ roster have suffered injuries that are preventing them from lacing up their skates.
David Perron, who has been unbelievable for Anaheim since joining the team, is out for four-to-six weeks with a separated shoulder. Young stud, Rickard Rakell, has appendicitis and goaltender, Frederik Andersen is out with a concussion. These three gentlemen may be the biggest names on the injured list but they, unfortunately, are not the only ones.
Losing so many key members of your team just before the playoffs are about to begin can ruin a contender’s chances at going all the way. Even if players such as Perron, Rakell, and Andersen end up being available for the postseason, there is no telling whether they will be able to get back to the level of play they were at before the injuries.
In addition, the Ducks will be tested right from the beginning of round one. Whether they end up playing the San Jose Sharks or the Nashville Predators, it will be difficult for Anaheim to come away victorious in a seven game series with a beaten up roster.
Playing in the Western Conference
Once again, the Western Conference is stocked full of teams worthy of the title “Stanley Cup contender”. Although a healthy Ducks team should be considered one as well, it is hard to argue that Anaheim matches up with some of the other titans in the West right now.
Even if Anaheim somehow manages to get out of the first round, the road to the cup will only get more challenging. It is hard to imagine the Ducks making it through the likes of the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, and Chicago Blackhawks to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. This would be a difficult task even for an Anaheim team with a clean bill of health. The Western Conference could prove to be too big of an obstacle for the Ducks to tackle.
The 2015-16 regular season for the Anaheim Ducks has been everything from entertaining and exciting to disappointing and heartbreaking. This team deserves to be in contention for the most coveted trophy in sports, especially after persevering through so much adversity at the beginning of the regular season.
Unfortunately for Anaheim and their fans, health issues and playing in an extremely deep Western Conference will most likely prevent the Ducks from winning the Stanley Cup in 2016.