Ducks and Flames are set to face off again in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This will be the third time these teams have met in a playoff series, the first being back in 2006 and the second being in 2015. During the regular season, the Ducks walked away with the win 4 out of the 5 times the two teams met this year and Calgary has not notched a win at the Honda Center since January 19, 2004.
This last time the two teams met back on April 4th saw the teams at each other’s throats mostly in part to the knee on knee collision between Cam Fowler and Mark Giordano that sent Cam Fowler off to the locker room with his teammates assisting him off the ice. Shortly after, Josh Manson in the spirit of retribution laid out an uppercut to the face of Giordano swiftly ending the tussle. The latter half of the game had the Ducks faithful chanting “you can’t win here” as a friendly reminder to the Flames of the dreaded Honda Center curse. It was announced a couple of days later that Cam Fowler would be out an estimated 2-6 weeks.
The loss of Cam Fowler is indeed a huge blow to Anaheim’s blue line as this has proved to be a breakout year for the young defensemen, who earlier, most fans were speculating would be getting traded until he came out full force and showed the fans and the league what he is truly capable of. However, in the midst of losing Cam Fowler temporarily, Anaheim has a much-fabled depth in regards to young defensemen; Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, Shea Theodore, and Brandon Montour to name a few. However, I expect either Theodore or Montour to be sitting due to Clayton Stoner coming back into action.
Anaheim’s offense is firing on all cylinders right now as well. Captain Ryan Getzlaf posted an incredible 58 assists this season with a +/- of 7 and tallying a PPG of 6. The recent addition of Patrick Eaves, or better known as Cpl. Patrick Eaves by the fans on /r/AnaheimDucks due to his grizzly Civil War beard has been a welcomed addition to the Ducks offense and arguably the best trade that happened before the trade deadline. Eaves fits in perfectly with his linemates Getzlaf and the highly under the radar Rickard Rakell, who himself, posted 33 goals this season.
Anaheim has depth in all of its lines and most notably aside from the first line, with its second line of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler, and Jakob Silfverberg. This line was the true backbone of the Ducks this year and without this line, they potentially would not be where it is they are right now which is winning their 5th consecutive Pacific Division.
Good news for the Ducks is that you have Corey Perry finally waking up offensively, as this has been a difinate underpreforming year for the right wing, posting just 19 goals this season. It could bode well for Anaheim that he is getting hot going into the playoffs. The Ducks will be opting to go with goalie John Gibson as their number one for the playoffs. The 23-year-old has a GAA of 2.22 and a solid save percentage of .924 Jonathan Bernier was another key factor in the Ducks’ success while holding the fort down for an injured Gibson during the last stretch of the season. Anaheim has a great tandem going into the playoffs if need be.
Tonight starts the series between the Ducks and Flames and it will be a hard fought series. The keys for Anaheim to be successful in this series are going to be staying out of the penalty box as much as possible and playing the full 60 minutes which Anaheim has seemingly struggle with throughout the season. This will be an absolute series to not miss! Taking my homer goggles off, I truly see this series going to 6 and Anaheim advancing to the second round.