1) Anaheim looks - stacked. Is this the crew that'll bring the hardware back to Disney's favorite team?
My personal opinion is that the Ducks are starting to fall in the category of San Jose, Vancouver and Washington, in that we have to wait for the playoffs to really see what they’re made of. Some of that is inherited from Bruce Boudreau, and some of it is based on their hot start and flame out in the first round last year.
The good signs for this season’s Ducks are that they have overcome some serious adversity in terms of injuries (everyone in the standard top six, except Corey Perry, has missed time already this season) and abysmal special teams to sit at the top of the division and the West and/or the league, depending on the night. But it’s still waaaaaay too early to tell.
This was actually a BIG topic of discussion last week for us, when my predecessor Jen Neale wrote a piece on Puck Daddy saying that she doesn’t necessarily believe the Ducks are for real this year. She took a TON of heat for it from fellow Ducks fans and my Associate Editor, Kyle, wrote a rebuttal for us. If you’re really interested, go read those.
2) We've all heard rumors that the ageless wonder Teemu Selanne will finish up his career back with Jokerit next season for his "real" last season. Thoughts?
I doubt it, he has a cushy life here in California. He has young kids in school here, he just opened a steakhouse and, most importantly, if he wants to keep playing hockey the Ducks will continue to pay him for-ev-er. He doesn’t need the hassle of flying across Siberia for a few extra bucks.
The only way I can see it is if Jokerit pays him like $10 million to play only home games for a year, or something crazy like that. Wait…. Scratch that, I don’t want to give them any ideas.
3) Bryan Allen had a few good seasons on a lackluster Panther team not so long ago. What does he bring to Anaheim (and can we please have him back)?
I guarantee, if you asked to have him back at any point last season EVERY SINGLE person in our comments section would take you up on it. Allen was a terrible disappointment last year, but I’m starting to think that the lockout was hard on him in some way.
He’s been much better this year, mostly playing veteran clean-up for the mistakes of his rookie defense partner, Sami Vatanen. This year he’s been much more of what I would expect, a large stay at home defenseman that is at his best when you don’t notice him. He’s still super slow though.
4) Jonas Hiller has been more than capable at backstopping the Ducks. But when your offense puts up three and a half goals per game, your save percentage takes on less importance. Hiller's .908 mark wouldn't translate to a 7-2-1 record in most other places. What's the story with Frederik Andersen and his .947 save percentage?
Right now the Ducks are basically the Anti-Flyers in goal. Between three capable NHL goalies in Hiller, Viktor Fasth and Andersen, plus American Hero: John Gibson holding down the fort in Norfolk and former star prospect Igor Bobkov relegated to the ECHL (except while Fasth has been injured) it’s an embarrassment of riches.
I’m no expert, but I’ve always had some issues with Hiller’s technique. He doesn’t have that perfectly flat butterfly that Roberto Luongo or Henrik Lundqvist have, and I seem to always catch him when his stick isn’t protecting that five hole. On top of that, he has a tendency to over exaggerate glove saves for dramatic effect, and I’m always waiting for one of those to go Patrick Roy, Statue of Liberty on him. But he gets the job done.
As for Andersen, I haven’t really been able to pin down anything that makes him so spectacular other than the fact that he’s huge, athletic and handles the puck pretty well (good combo for a goalie). I’m sure his numbers will come back to Earth, the way Fasth’s did last year after he started his NHL career 8-0 and signed a two year contract, but I’ll be happy to have him as a 1A/1B with Fasth when Hiller inevitably gets traded and while Gibson develops in Norfolk for the next couple of years.
5) A hypothetical question. Assume the Panthers win tonight - what went wrong for Anaheim?
The Ducks would probably have spent a long time on the power play. Jesus it’s awful, despite getting on the right track for a couple games last week (4-for-6 vs. Phoenix and Buffalo).
Also, for all the talking we do about the forward depth of the team this year - and there is quite a bit based on the injury situation - the Ducks still rely heavily on Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf missed Sunday’s game vs. Vancouver with an upper body injury and is listed as day to day as of this writing (Sunday night). So, if they get down early and don’t have Hulkslaf to drag them back to victory, there could be a problem as well. However, Getzlaf apparently sustained his injury during the morning skate on Friday, the same day that he had his first career hat trick. So, he probably won’t be out for long.
Make sure to tune in tonight as Fox's Phantom Cam makes its Panther debut:
With the ability to record up to 5,000 frames per second, Phantom Cam is able to show live game action in never-before-seen slow-motion detail. A typical slow-motion camera records at 380 frames per second or less. The Phantom Cam frame rate allows the broadcast to slow video down with clarity to show things the human eye and other cameras cannot pick up.
LBC would like to thank Chris for his thoughtful answers to our questions. Check back here later for your game preview, and join us again for the Game Thread, 30 minutes before the puck drops.