October 13, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks centerNick Bonino
(13) is congratulated after a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Season Summary So Far: It was a simple goal for the Anaheim Ducks, entering the 2013-14 season: translate regular season success into playoff wins. The Ducks failed to do that in 2013, when a second-place finish in the Western Conference saw them fall to the seventh-seed Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Just like last year, the Ducks have started strong, and just like last year, they are not getting the attention their record deserves. They were the first victim to the Colorado Avalanche, but since then, the Ducks have rattled off six straight wins, against formidable teams such as the hot Calgary Flames, and Phoenix Coyotes.
Strengths: Goal scoring ability, underrated defense, smart depth pieces, experienced coaching staff, bonus points for the best alternate uniforms in the league (pictured above).
Weaknesses: God-awful power-play (only 3%!), *slightly* better penalty kill (ranked 22nd), unproven goaltenders.
The Real Deal?: You can bet on it. Anaheim seems to shy away from the spotlight, but makes your favourite team pay with a convincing effort. With the most underrated 12 forwards in the league, Anaheim continues to surprise teams, and will be a playoff dark horse again in 2014. Teemu Sellanne will hope for a great sendoff year, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will have to earn every dime of their massive eight-year contracts. Viktor Fasth will emerge as a quality starting goaltender, and Luca Sbisa and co. will have to hold down the fort to defend the offense’s big leads.