Photo by Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Boasting a perfectly-timed and well-blended combination of depth and momentum, the Anaheim Ducks are coasting into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with everything going right for them.
On the heels of the club's fourth straight 100-point season, the Pacific Division champions have been absolutely sizzling of late, completing a sweep of the Calgary Flames on Wednesday and winning eight straight going back to the regular season, while losing only three times (all in overtime or shootout) in their last 18 contests—by far the best run entering the postseason. The Flames have been particularly crushed by the Ducks in recent times, suffering a first-round sweep after dropping four of five games in the regular season, while inexplicably dropping 27 straight contests in Anaheim.
In the latest chapter of the Ducks' domination over the Flames, their stars showed up when it mattered most. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who each played critical roles in Anaheim's 2007 Cup win, were in typical Flame-killing form. Getzlaf recorded three goals and two assists in four games, while Perry scored the overtime winner in Game 3. John Gibson was great, too, laughing off a Game 3 yanking to come back and close it out in Game 4, making 36 saves and stopping 113 of 122 overall in the series.
More so than any other club in the postseason, this well-oiled machine from Anaheim is about more than three guys. The Ducks have gotten contributions from up and down their roster, from expected and not-so-expected sources. Thirteen different skaters recorded at least a point for Anaheim in the first round, with eight different players combining to score the Ducks' 14 goals. Patrick Eaves, a late-season pickup from Dallas, and Nate Thompson, a fourth liner with only two points this season, have been surprisingly exceptional, with the former notching three points in round one and the latter doubling his 2015-16 scoring totals with four points and two goals, including the series-clinching tally in Game 4.
Gibson posted a .926 save percentage during the four-game sweep. Photo by Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Three Ducks rank tied in the top ten in playoff scoring so far, and Getzlaf is only one of them. Rickard Rakell, who had an under-the-radar 33 regular-season goals, entered this postseason with five total playoff points over the past three seasons, and already matched that in round one, notching two goals and three apples in four games. Rookie defenceman Shea Theodore, who played only 34 contests in his first NHL campaign, is showing the team's depth on the backend, currently tied for the postseason lead among defencemen in goals (two) and points (five) in his first career playoff stint. He's filled in admirably for two of the team's top injured blueliners, Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen, who both missed first-round games.
Anaheim came into the postseason firing on all cylinders, finishing in the top third of the league in most advanced statistical categories, including a third-ranked score and venue adjusted Corsi save percentage (96.40), and the second-best expected PDO (100.76), according to Corsica Hockey.The team also ranked fourth in penalty kill percentage, allowed the third fewest goals against, and was the league's best in the faceoff circle.
The first team through to the second round and with several days off to rest, the Ducks are riding their depth as they prime up for another deep playoff run.