It's a team full of good guys with electric skill on the ice. But more than any other team in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks were built for a deep playoff run. But they fell just short of the conference finals in a devastating Game 7 loss to the Kings. It was a harsh ending after such a banner year. As the 2013-14 season comes to an end for the Ducks, here's how they grade out and what they have to look forward to in the future.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
This is any easy one. Anaheim scored the most goals in the regular season (263) and that offense did show up in the post season. Center Ryan Getzlaf's 15 points is only four shy of Marian Gaborik’s playoff-leading 19 and his linemate Corey Perry had 43 regular-season goals, the second-most in the league. They're deep from lines 1-4 and have scoring threats still down in the minor leagues waiting for their chance. Devante Smith-Pelly just made the most of his with five postseason goals.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY SportsKelvin Kuo
With Sheldon Souray out all season with a wrist injury, the Ducks got a little thinner but not by much. General Manager Bob Murphy made a smart trade deadline deal when he acquired veteran defender Stephane Robidas (pictured), a hard-nosed penalty kill defenseman, from the Dallas Stars. But Robidas broke his leg in the playoffs, oddly enough playing against his old team. Sami Vatanen proved in the playoffs that he belongs up with the big club and effectively stepped in to Robidas' spot on the penalty kill. Undersized, Vatanen is a sparkplug on the ice and also brings an offensive presence.
Special Teams: C
Members of the team frequently described the Ducks' power play game as "Jekyll-and-Hyde." Some days it was good, some days it was great, but mostly it was inconsistent. The Ducks ranked 22nd in the regular season converting on only 16 percent of power play opportunities, yet Anaheim logged the eighth-most time with a man advantage and had more than 16 minutes of two-man advantage time - the second-most in the league behind Carolina - and still couldn’t convert. The penalty kill was much better, as the Ducks regularly killed off more than 80 percent of penalties, but the power play game is something that needs to be improved.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
If Jonas Hiller (pictured) wasn't on his way out of town after the first round, the Ducks' five-year veteran backstop appears to be now after he was called on to back up two rookies in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. Regardless of what happened with Gibson in Game 7, it's clear that the future is now in Anaheim is exceptionally bright. All season the Ducks have had a wealth of goalies even being forced to deal Viktor Fasth, who was injured much of the year, at the deadline. The issue becomes how to use which goalie in which situations, as it becomes evident that there's little room left for the goalie with the second-best postseason save percentage in the expansion era.
The Ducks played to a very particular pattern: Slow starts in the first period, scorching second periods and defensive lapses in the third. More goals were scored in the second period than any other and the Ducks were often able to make up for early 1-goal holes and hold teams off through the third. But barely. A loss of focus and a sense that the team would coast with a third period lead often allowed for dicey times late in games. Head coach Bruce Boudreau has said wingers like Daniel Winnik aren't always locked in throughout the entirety and it proved to be dangerous against top teams late in game.
During the regular season, Boudreau did little wrong. But in the postseason, it was almost as if he outsmarted himself at times. He took apart successful lines only to put them back together and juggled the goalies. But the one thing that he did right: He stayed true to his moves, solid in his belief that he was making the moves that would give the team the best chance to win. Boudreau is a consummate players coach. His ability to roll four lines and three sets of defensemen allows each to get comfortable in their rolls and effectively perform to the best of their abilities. He gets the most out of his players, their respect included.
Final Grade: B+
The Ducks will lose Teemu Selanne, a big piece of that locker room and the unit on the ice. They may lose Saku Koivu to retirement as well, although Koivu has yet to make a decision. With players like Vatanen, Smith-Pelly (right), Emerson Etem and Rickard Rakell in addition to the two talented goalies, Anaheim’s youth corps is ready to make an impact now and for years to come. Guys like Getzlaf and Perry aren't looking to slow down any time soon and the mix of young and old is the formula for even stronger campaign next season.