Corey Perry 3

Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.

You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.

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Added: Jakob Silfverberg, Dustin Penner, Mark Fistric
Subtracted: Bobby Ryan, Matthew Lombardi, David Steckel, Tony Lydman

The Ducks are going to be good

The Anaheim Ducks are going to be a serious threat this season. Coming off a season in which they finished third in the NHL in regulation wins (30 in 48 games), they’ve added bright offensive prospect Jakob Silfverberg, brought back big Dustin Penner and added depth defenseman Mark Fistric. Ryan Getzlaf re-established himself as one of the league’s best forwards last season and earned a comforting extension, they still have Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, and young players like Devante Smith-Pelley, Emerson Etem and Cam Fowler are only getting better. They have one of the best goaltending duos in the league too, so there’s no reason to expect them to fall off in 2013-14.

The Ducks are going to be bad

According to PDO, a stat that essentially measures shooting luck, the Ducks were the one of the single luckiest teams in the NHL last season, and that sort of thing isn’t sustainable. They also traded away consistent 30-goal-scorer Bobby Ryan for an unproven commodity, lost Sheldon Souray (who led the d-corps in goals last year), and they rely on Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne to provide supplemental offense, who are currently a combined 81 years old in a young man’s league. But at least their d-corps is all of one decent pair deep.

Oh, and they were also just above .500 in the second half of the last season. Not great.

Flippant barstool prediction

The Ducks are going to matter, but not matter-matter. Which is to say, they could be a fringe playoff team – they’ll at least be in the conversation for a spot after 60 games or so – but they’re not a Cup contender.

The numbers:

The Ducks PDO was 1016, which basically means they had good puck luck when shooting, and their opponents did not. It was already regressing as the season started to move on last year. They did manage a not-unimpressive +22 goal differential, which is a great number after 48 games anyway you slice it. Some of their success will be tough to replicate: they kicked ass on the road (14-5-5 record), owned in coinflips shootouts (6-3), and had the fourth best powerplay in the league (21.5%). A good sign: they were good 5-on-5, putting up a 1.28 goals for/against ratio.

Okay, but seriously:

I just can’t see anyway that the Ducks are better than last year after basically swapping out Ryan for Silfverberg, losing Souray, and leaning on improvements from young guys that can only be so big. And, if you account for the fact that many of us think they overachieved to begin with last year, you can see how I arrived at my flippant barstool opinion. They would have to fall a considerable amount to go from division champs to out of the playoffs, but here we are: I could see them needing a few wins in their final few games of the season. That d-corps is just too thin to think they’ll be much higher than the eight-to-10 seed range.

Your NHL.com round up:

Comments (12)

  1. Is Beauchemin going to be ready for the start of the season? Because that kind of matters huge to the Ducks defence.

    I think the Ducks are a decent team trapped in a lower seed that ultimately proves a tough out (and might be able to shock the division champion given the right matchup).

    • By all accounts, Beauch won’t be 100% right off and expects to miss a couple/few games. But last progress was “ahead of schedule,” so…

  2. Nailed it overall. Devante Smith-Pelley didn’t see much ice last season, but Kyle Palmieri subs into that sentence nicely enough.

    Maybe a wildcard mention here is Nick Bonino. If he stays healthy and grows into a decent 2C, secondary scoring could get a boost beyond Koivu and Selanne.

    Good write up, like the format too.

  3. But, but Penner!?

  4. I don’t think this is a playoff team.

  5. I think they can make top 3 in the pacific and if not then a wild card for the western conference

  6. I love this feature, right here.

    Mark me down in the ‘going to be bad’ camp, though I’m rooting for Silfverberg to have a decent season

  7. Really disappointed that the comments on this article are level-headed.

    I thought maybe a court of public opinion style public disclaimer of fandom would be needed for this series of posts. I’ll have to wait for my team to start foaming at the mouth with rage at the author.

  8. Not only did they have ridiculously high PDO, they also had a Fennwick close that usually indicates a non playoff team.

    I also don’t think they have a particularly strong defense.

    Not a playoff team.

  9. As usual…great job Justin.

    While I agree: no D, no Ryan, no good…the fact that PDO / luck is even part of the discussion means you’ve been drinking the TO cool-aid. (…if you add a little vodka, maybe I could by it.)

    The fact that Chicago won the Cup w/Crawford…now that’s luck.

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