One of the great things about the SB Nation hockey network is the fact that you have a plethora of writers and fans that love to talk about their team. Today, I teamed up with one of my favorite SBN editors to get a little "inside" information on the Anaheim Ducks. Big thanks to Jen for taking the time out of her morning to answer these questions.
Make sure to head over to Anaheim Calling and partake in a little friendly ribbing against the team that was named after the best trilogy of hockey movies ever.
1.) Are the ducks really as bad as they looked against the avalanche?
Good Lord I hope not. They looked like crap and I'm not terribly surprised. There is no excuse for bad play but they are hit by the injury bug. Replacement Bobby Ryan, Jakob Silfverberg, was activated off of IR that day; Emerson Etem is still recovering from his 'lower body injury' suffered against the Sharks in the preseason; Luca Sbisa is out with an ankle injury; Sheldon Souray is out; Francois Beauchemin is coming off off-season ACL surgery and the list goes on.
I'm most intrigued about how the team will play tonight without Teemu Selanne in the lineup. He's only playing in one game of all 12 back-to-back games this season. It's kind of a preview of life in the post-Teemu era.
2.) What are the ducks biggest strength and biggest weakness so far this season?
The glaring weakness is the defense. With Sbisa and Souray out and Beauchemin at less than full strength, the Ducks are leaning on Cam Fowler and Ben Lovejoy. The annoying part is Bruce played them together all pre-season and then put Fowler with Beauchemin in game one. This forces Fowler to his off-wing and it was terrible. Towards the end of the debacle against the Avs, Lovejoy and Fowler were reunited and life was somewhat normal(ish) again. Rumors are the Ducks are shopping one of their plethora of highly touted young forwards for a young defenseman in return. I'd like to see that trade go down sooner rather than later.
As for strengths there are two. First, the game against Colorado notwithstanding, Anaheim has two pretty good goaltenders in Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller. It'll be interesting to see how Hiller plays tonight after Fasth's stinker versus Colorado. Should the Ducks find themselves without a better defenseman towards the deadline, Hiller could be the trade-bait instead of the young forward. Jonas is in the last year of his deal and all signs point to this being his last with the Ducks because of all the goaltending prospects in the queue.
Second strength is the depth at forward. There has not been a time in my years of being a Ducks fan have they ever had sooooo many quality options at forward. Since Martin Madden took over as Director of Amateur Scouting, the Ducks have drafted incredibly well. The options at forward are beginning to arrive at the pro (or AHL) level. The Ducks may not have the guaranteed 30 goals of Bobby Ryan anymore but they do have several young players in the lineup who can provide at least 20 goals each.
3.) What is different about this ducks team the team we saw last season?
To state the obvious, the big difference is not having Bobby Ryan. Truthfully, it's weird not to have him there but I knew this moment would come. He was so miserable not being 'the guy' in Anaheim.
Everything else is relatively the same. Defense was iffy last year, too. I guess adding Dustin Penner back into the fold should mean something significant but he was healthy-scratched the first game of the season. Bruce has been less than impressed with his effort and conditioning (surprise, surprise). Perry, Getzlaf and Penner played only one pre-season together. They'll be reunited tonight against the Wild. The best indicator as to if Bruce feels he's improved will be the number of shifts he takes as a part of the top line before being dropped down to fourth.