CALGARY, AB – On the outside looking in at the end of the regular season last year, the Anaheim Ducks will look to once again return to the playoff picture in what could be franchise face Teemu Selanne’s final campaign.
Playoff aspirations won’t just fall on Selanne’s shoulders, though. The Ducks boast some of the league’s most explosive forwards in Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and former Maurice Richard Trophy winner Corey Perry. Consistency out of that trio will be important for an offense that was 24th in the NHL in production a year ago.
Equally challenged will be Anaheim’s blueline. With the additions of six-foot-four Sheldon Souray, six-foot-five Bryan Allen, the continued development of third-year rearguard Cam Fowler and new assistant coach Scott Neidermayer, the Ducks remodeled defense should come into the season improved and could be the make-or-break department for Anaheim’s postseason aspirations.
An improved defense could make the life of goaltender Jonas Hiller a lot easier. Hiller, who played in 73 games last season, saw his save percentage take a bit of a dip last year, is expected to return to form in front of a bigger, stronger, more experienced blueline.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
In what could be Selanne’s final tour, the Finnish Flash has shown no sign of slowing down in one of hockey’s most storied careers. A 17-time 20-goal scorer over the course of his 663-goal career, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility the 42-year-old hits the plateau one more time despite the shortened season.
After a career-low 11 goals and 57 points last season, Getzlaf will have plenty to prove in what amounts to a contract year for the Ducks captain. The talent is evident in the former Calgary Hitmen forward and the effort will be there from a personal and team perspective for Getzlaf.
After a surprisingly impressive rookie campaign as an 18-year-old in 2010-11, Fowler’s offensive numbers regressed last season as he moved towards rounding out his game. Without the now-departed Lubomir Visnovsky on the power play, Fowler will once again be counted on to be a point-producer from the back end.
BY THE NUMBERS
Calgary’s Record All-Time: 33-31-7-8
Calgary’s Record Head-To-Head Last Year: 2-1-1
Record Last Season: 34-36-12 (13th in Western Conference)
Who’s In: Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Daniel Winnik, Brad Staubitz
Who’s Out: Lubomir Visnovsky, Sheldon Brookbank, George Parros
Top Scorers vs. Flames: Bobby Ryan – 4G 0A 4P
Flames Top Scorers: Jarome Iginla – 1G 2A 3P
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