Which Team Could Anaheim Face In The First Round?

Photo: USA Today

By Mathieu Bernier

We are a few days away from the playoffs. The Ducks, with a record of 45-23-13, are currently leading the Pacific division. It sure didn’t seem possible few weeks ago, but things have changed. Right now, we see a team with more confidence, consistency and with a backup goalie who has done an outstanding job.

Still, the standings remain too tight to determine which team the Ducks will face in the first round. Let’s take a look at the possibilities of confrontation.

First possibility: Calgary Flames

With a 3-1 victory on April 4th, the Ducks finished the season with a 3-1-0 record against the Flames. Of course, the only loss recorded wasn’t at the Honda Center. It’s now been 13 years since the Flames failed to beat the Ducks at their home. However, the only defeat of the season wasn’t a small one: Anaheim has lost by the final mark of 8-3. This shows that Ducks can’t sit on their current statistics against Calgary. They will have to keep playing great defensively and adapt to the speed of the young Flames. We should rather expect a very intense matchup. The last game between the two teams was an excellent overview.

Video: Ducks Sweep Back-To-Back, Manson Levels Giordano

The Ducks will also have to take advantage of their lack of experience in the playoffs. While the Flames will only make their second appearance in playoffs over the last 8 years. The last time was during the 2015 playoffs when the ducks beat them in five games.

Finally, it’s also great to see that some of the great names of the Ducks have managed to be productive against the flames. Perry has 6 assists and 9 shots on goal, Getzlaf has 5 assists 9 shots on goal, Kesler 1 goal 2 assists 5 shots on goal.

Second Possibility: San Jose Sharks

Who wouldn’t be excited to see a Ducks-Sharks duel in the first round? This is what could happen if the Ducks are overtaken by the Oilers atop the Pacific Division.

The Ducks are currently 3-0-2 against San Jose, and each game is very tight, with a difference of one goal in each of those game. Unlike the Flames, the Sharks have a very experienced team in playoffs. They reached the Stanley Cup Final last year with a team very similar to the one they have this year.

If the Ducks want to win against the Sharks, they will have to be able to stop players like Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, both among the top 20 scoring leaders in the league. In addition, the top players of the Ducks will have to raise their games. In the five games against San Jose this season, Corey Perry has 3 assists and 11 SOG, Getzlaf 3 assists 10 SOG, Silfverberg 2 goals 15 SOG and Rakell 2 goals, 1 assist, 8 SOG.

Third Possibility: Nashville Predators

The Ducks could also face the Predators, who are currently in the Wild Card. It would be a second consecutive year with a confrontation between the two teams in the playoffs. The curse of the 7th game again struck the Ducks when the team lost the final game against the Preds at home.

This season, the Ducks are 2-0-1 against the Preds: Two victories of 6-1 and 5-0, and a shootout loss of 4-3. In those games, several players contributed:

  • Perry: 1 goal, 11 SOG.
  • Getzlaf (Missed the first game): 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 SOG
  • Silfverberg: 2 goals, 9 SOG
  • Rakell (Missed the first game): 1 goal, 8 SOG.
  • Vatanen 3 assists, 11 SOG
  • Ritchie: 2 goals, 6 SOG

On the other hand, Anaheim will also have to focus on their game and try to stop guys like Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and of course Filip Forsberg, who has 23 points in his last 23 games. A rematch of the Ducks against the Preds would also be envisagable.

Finally, although least likely, but the Ducks could also face St. Louis Blues, while they have a record of 1-1-1. This also should be an interesting matchup; each game between the two teams were really tight.

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April 8th, 2017

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