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.
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 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: