The Hockey News picks the Ducks to win the Cup

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Für das nordamerikanische Fachmagazin "The Hockey News" sind die Anaheim Ducks der Titelfavorit für den Gewinn des Stanley Cups:



The Hockey News picks the Ducks to win the Cup


By Mike Brophy



It is amazing how fast you forget; how quickly you can go from being on top of the world to feeling down and out.


That’s what defeat does. It pulls the carpet right out from under you.


“I talked to my buddy who’s the president of the Seattle Seahawks and

they lost in the Super Bowl last year,” says Anaheim GM Brian Burke.

“He said the problem is, when you get that close, you forget how far

you came.


“The tantalizing vision of what could have happened if you got one more

goal or if your goaltender stopped one more puck makes you forget about

all the good you achieved. You forget the fact there were only four

teams playing when you were eliminated.”


It was right there last season – the Stanley Cup – within reach for

Burke’s mighty Ducks. He could almost taste it. But after his team was

eliminated in the Western final by Edmonton, Burke was like 28 other

NHL GMs. Back to the drawing board. Fortunately, he had the foundation

for a championship team and Anaheim has played at an elite level

virtually all season.


Back in September, The Hockey News decided the Ducks were a worthy

pre-season choice to win the Cup and – after a long and entertaining

regular season that included nail-biting battles for playoff spots in

both conferences – we see no reason to change our minds.


That does not mean we are handing the Ducks the championship and the

next two months are meaningless. On the contrary, there are a handful

of worthy Cup candidates and predicting a winner is a crapshoot.


Certainly Nashville, Minnesota and maybe even a long shot such as

Calgary in the West, as well as Buffalo, New Jersey and Ottawa in the

East have something to say about where the Cup ends up. But that

doesn’t change the fact we like Anaheim. And not surprisingly, so does

Burke.


“We have established goaltending and both of them (J-S Giguere and Ilya

Bryzgalov) are playing well now,” he says. “I like our defense up

against any other defense in the league. And we have balanced scoring

with the ‘Kid Line’ (Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry-Dustin Penner) picking it

up a little bit.”


There is plenty to like about the Ducks. Start with a cast of forwards

that includes revived 36-year-old Teemu Selanne, who, in two seasons

since having career-saving knee surgery during the lockout, has put up

back-to-back 40-plus goal seasons and is once again counted among the

league’s most lethal offensive threats.


Center Andy McDonald is smallish, but tailor-made for the new NHL,

while Chris Kunitz has emerged as a dependable power forward.

Sophomores Getzlaf, Perry and Penner will benefit greatly from last

year’s playoff initiation.


All told, the Ducks tied for sixth in the league in goals scored, having tallied 55 more than they allowed.


In Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, the blueline boasts the best

1-2 punch in the NHL – and one of the best ever. It must be comforting

for coach Randy Carlyle to know he’ll have one of the Big Two on the

ice at all times.


Giguere has re-emerged as a starting goalie of note and Bryzgalov is more than capable as an understudy.


The salary cap has made it tougher to predict which teams have success

in the playoffs. Before the lockout, you’d look at the teams with the

highest payroll and maybe lump in one or two small-market, low-payroll

teams.


The landscape has changed. Now there’s more parity, more teams with a real chance to win.


“There are three things I think have made it very difficult to pick

which team is going to win,” Burke says. “First, there’s the new

rules…no lead is safe anymore. In the old days you’d get up 3-1 and

really put the clamps on the other team. Now you can’t do that. The

second thing is, there are no $30-million gaps in payroll like we used

to see. The teams are closer that way.


“The third thing is, it all comes down to special teams. And our special teams are pretty good.”


Anaheim’s power play was third at 22.2 per cent and the penalty kill

sixth at 84.7 per cent. When you combine a team’s PP and PK averages,

100 is middle of the road. Anaheim is at 106.9, among the tops in the

league. The Ducks are also strong 5-on-5.



To read the rest of this story and other great features from the world of

hockey, you can buy this issue

http://www.zinio.com/singles?issn=0018-3016U&ns=zno

or subscribe at


https://secure.indas.on.ca/care/hnc/digital.php?key=W06LDN73


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