Dear Hockey Friends,
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Without much input or blogging from our resident Ducks guy coupled with my nervous waiting for a couple of key decisions from the Ducks, I thought I would step in and pre-empt how I think the Ducks will likely start the season.
Kunitz - McDonald - Bertuzzi (the rookie Bobby Ryan may see some time)
May - Getzlaf - Perry
Moen - Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
Miller - Marchant - Ryan and Parros
Pronger - Schneider
Beauchemin - O'Donnell
Huskins - Hnidy and DiPenta
backup to Jiggy
Obviously I have painfully assumed that both Teemu Selanne and Scott Neidermayer have retired and are rightfully enjoying the time with their families and taking a good long rest. My whole perspective clearly changes if either of these incredible players chooses to grace us with their talents again. In the meantime, we salute and well wish both The Finnish Flash and Scott Niedermayer on their incredible careers and positive influence on the game of hockey. They are both what is good and pure about the NHL. Both great ambassadors for the game and great role models for kids.
Some quick reasoning behind my lineup. Let's start with the easy line of Moen, Pahlsson, and R. Nieds. They are quite possibly the reason the Ducks won The Cup. They are such a good line defensively and found some well deserved scoring in the playoffs. I suspect that scoring touch will grow in this coming season. They have found an uncanny chemistry together. Pretty simple reasoning here. Why change a great and proven line?
Next we move to the top line with Kunitz and McDonald. The real question is who do you slot them with on the right wing? Bertuzzi will probably be the first attempt. I question whether the speedy McDonald and Kunitz will have a RW to actually keep up and play with them. I can't comment on Bobby Ryan's speed, but have heard some good things, so if Bertuzzi doesn't find the chemistry on the top line, then Bobby Ryan will probably get his shot.
The 2nd unit already starts will a solid pair in Getzlaf and Perry. With Penner going to the Oilers, 2/3rds of the PPG(Penner, Perry, Getzlaf) line will be looking for a LW to fill that role. Brad May could just be the guy. He could throw his frame all over the ice and create open areas for the highly skilled Getzlaf and Perry. He can work the corners and put the puck into the scoring areas for the kids. I think we will see the PPG line turn into the MPG line and hopefully get some good mileage (nice pun hey) from the 2nd line.
The 4th line is really the wildcard in the new Ducks lineup. It will probably be a moving target as it was much of last year. We will see 5-6 guys get their shots playing alongside Marchant. He is such a quick, character player who is an incredible penalty killer. I know Marchant was used late in the season playing with both Selanne and McDonald (Kunitz was hurt) and he may see some time on 3 different lines this season at both C and winger. He was also caught playing with Getzlaf and Perry on a regular occasion in 2007 too. But we have to start somewhere, so he starts leading the fourth line and teaching his young wingers. He will have Miller and Ryan to start with. Could be quite an effective line actually. I look forward to seeing what they can do. The Ducks will obviously throw George Parros in on many games and then the 4th line changes entirely. In those games, I see Marchant switching places with Brad May. Then Ryan Carter moves in at 4th line center between May and Parros and that becomes the "keep things calm and even" line. Or against the MN Wild, that becomes the sucker punching, pre-game Boogard bashing, line.
On defense, Pronger and Beauchemin will both eat 30 minutes of highly effective time. Schneider will also be called on to get a few minutes more than his 24 minutes he averaged in Detroit. O'Donnell averaged 20 minutes last season for the Ducks and he should see a few minutes more per game this year. Huskins, Hnidy, and DiPenta all play solid defensive hockey.
In net, there are no questions at the #1. Giguere has gotten really wise at understanding his body and avoiding injuries. He is good during the season, but wins games in the playoffs. He may steal a game or two in the regular season, but that is not his goal. He openly states that all he wants to do is keep his team close enough to win. Barring any injuries, he plays a ton of games this year as an added responsibility for his new large contract. Whoever the backup, let's hope he can stop a few pucks too.
Bryzgalov deserves to be a #1 goalie in this league and the Ducks have stated they will find him a team where he can do that. The window is closing and for Bryz, I hope a team gives the Ducks something enticing to make a move. I will personally hate to play against him. He can be a wall.
Now let's drop the play and play.
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