Most winning hockey teams have a positive goal differential. Winning teams score more goals than they give up. Last season our Ducks overall goal differential was -22. Goal differential is such a key stat it usually dictates the standings. Test it yourself. About mid-season, every season, you’ll see the standings fall in line with overall goal differential. No need to get fancy and subtract empty netters and PP goals. Just go with the overall goal differential.
Structurally there won’t be much difference from last season. Count on our guys to lose more faceoffs than they win. Most often our Ducks have to win back possession. East/West puck movement D2D will again be less than smooth with six lefties out there.
On the upside the additions of Winnick, Allen and Souray will make the team much more physical. Losing George Parros and picking up Brad Staubitz is a push. This added toughness though will translate into increased puck possession. That doesn’t guaranty more goals necessarily but should produce more opportunities.
Last season our guys produced 201 goals, good for 23rd overall. We gave up 224 for 19th in overall GA.
This must be reversed if our Ducks are to make the postseason.
The bright spot should be a very underrated transition from defense to offense from the backline. Cam Fowler has already shown himself to be a great up and coming puck moving Dman. Underrated though, Beauchemin, Lydman, Allen & Sbisa can all make a good first pass or lug the biscuit up a lane. Sheldon Souray has a rep for making the occasional bad pass.
Coach Boudreau calls short passes or give and goes, “Shares.” Look for our Ducks to have an outlet guy near the puck. Offensively this is a significant difference between Gabby and Coach Carlyle. One player battles for the biscuit while the next nearest is in a support position. It’s after that first share when you’ll see the guys spread out East/West with one breaking North/South or up ice. In your mind’s eye, think of the wingers and D forming a box that expands and contracts.
Coach Boudreau likes up tempo hockey. Some pundits are asking if he’ll do for Cam Fowler what he did for Mike Green in Washington. We’ll see but as our best puck moving Dman Fowler has to return to double-digit scoring and 40 pts on the board that he produced as a rookie.
As far as roster spots go, Coach has 3 decisions to make. (1) Who skates alongside the Twins, (2) Building a line and 2nd unit PP around Bobby Ryan opens two jobs, (3) Teemu alongside Saku Koivu is no longer a lock.
Getzlaf and Perry have to return to point a game or better players. If they do somebody other than Bobby Ryan will benefit as their new LW. Candidates include Devante Smith-Pelly, Patrick Maroon will get a look, as well as usual suspects Matt Beleskey, Daniel Winnick and Kyle Palmieri. My sleeper to land that spot is Andrew Cogliano.
With either Souray and Allen backing him up, Getz doesn’t have to the lone big guy out there. I sense he really misses Chris Pronger. With another big guy on the ice, Coach will have the opportunity to inject some much-needed speed alongside The Twins.
Three consecutive years I’ve predicted Bobby Ryan breaks the 40 goal barrier. At risk of proving Einstein’s definition of DUH, I’ll stick with it. This time out the rational is Coach builds the 2nd unit PP around and gives them enough TOI to produce.
As Ryan’s possible center Nick Bonino presents an interesting scenario. Last I checked Bones was averaging 3 pts per game in Italy. While it’s doubtful he could achieve in the ECHL, the experience should do great things for his confidence. Peter Holland will challenge Bones for the job and may win it out right at camp. If not, look for Coach to use a quick hook and rotate guys in and out.
Teemu alongside Saku Koivu isn’t a lock this season. More likely, Koivu and Winnick anchor the third line while mentoring a rookie or sophomore. It’s an ideal spot for Kyle Palmieri.
Coach Boudreau likes to roll 4 lines. If Bonino beats out Holland look for Branden McMillan to center the line. Wingers are likely to be Matt Beleskey and Brad Staubitz.
With so many unsettled roster questions it’s hard to make even a guesstimate on our Ducks offense. If, if, if. Jeez, if the kids start popping consistently and a second scoring line and 2nd unit PP is built around Ryan, lookout, cookout.
If not and Ryan remains as streaky as ever. The Twins get smothered facing the leagues best defenders. The 1st unit PP falters and that fast we’re looking at a minus goal differential.
If you’re thinking how critical it is for the team to come together, you get it.
The good news is that with Hiller between the pipes, they’ll get a chance.