NHL 2017 Season: Anaheim Ducks Pre-Season Overview
For a team that is relatively new in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks have produced impressive results throughout their 24-year history. In the 2016-17 season, they finished 1st place in the Pacific Division and 3rd in the Western Conference. They scored 223 goals for the 200 against them, and finished with a winning record of 46 – 23 – 13. This year, the Ducks are aiming to get to the playoffs again, and with a team that looks at least as good as last year, this goal is not unrealistic.Let’s take a look at the most important changes for the team in the 2017-18 NHL season, and what they may mean for fans and bettors.
The Ducks Have Had a Great Run in Recent Years
The Edmonton Oilers are one of the best teams in the Pacific Division, but the Ducks have managed to beat them to the division title for the past four years. The Anaheim Ducks were strong in the post-season last year, and many would consider them to be at the level of the very best teams in the NHL.2017 represents another chance for the team to get to the playoffs and chase a Stanley Cup final appearance, but they’re going to need the right players to make this happen. The good news for the team is that they already do have the players, and they’re not going to need a huge roster of new talent to get them where they need to be.
Goaltender Ryan Miller Joins to Help Mentor John Gibson
The most noteworthy addition to the team this year is Ryan Miller. Coming from the Canucks, Ryan will represent another option in goaltender, after Jonathan Bernier left to join the Avalanche. Ryan is one of the league’s veterans and he’s getting on in his years, but his age doesn’t seem to impacted his performance as yet. Last year with the Canucks he managed an impressive .914 save percentage from 54 games played, and he hasn’t dipped below .903 in any of the last ten seasons. The Ducks have a strong offensive and defensive line, so bringing in a talented veteran for the net is a move that makes sense. The Ducks could have done better with their goals for and against in 2016-17. They scored just 23 more goals than they conceded, and a goaltender of Miller’s caliber could help to change that statistic. Miller will likely be the second keeper, being used to push John Gibson, the 24-year-old who should be the future of the Ducks. Miller has signed on for two years, and the move is not only good in sporting terms, but it also brings him closer to his family. When talking about the signing, he said that “playing in the NHL has always been important to me and I’ve always considered it a privilege, and to be able to blend that and be where we make our home is nice.” In previous years, Miller was going for weeks at a time without seeing his family, so being closer to home in L.A. could mean that he’s a more relaxed and happier player overall, which may also mean an improvement in his already impressive performance. The Ducks have a tight defense, so he might not be as busy as he was with the Canucks, but he’s still looking forward to the challenge. He told the media that “mentally you try not to go to a place where you’re looking for excuses. It [playing for the Canucks] definitely ironed out a lot of things in my game, actually. I think that I can bring a mental approach almost similar to what I’d been telling myself prior to games, was just being very simple and direct: I have a job and stop the puck, and there’s no excuses about what’s happening at any moment. And the kind of breakdowns you see in the NHL are going to happen on any team, and you have to be ready and prepared to handle that situation no matter where you’re at. I think for me it was a lesson in humility and just being calm, patient, and going out there to play a hockey game and not to have an expectation any which way. I always thought I could have an impact on the game if I put myself in the right mind-set, and that’s something I actually hope to continue while I’m here.”The team have not committed to the number of starts they plan to give to Miller, but coach Randy Carlyle has been positive about the acquisition, noting that it will be Miller’s job to push John Gibson and lift overall goaltending performance in the team.
An Older Side That Still Has Talent
The core of the Ducks is older than some of the other teams in the league. Management don’t feel that they need to start making drastic changes in the roster, and there’s a general consensus that the key players still have what it takes to challenge for a Stanley Cup. Based on last year’s performance, we would have to agree with this.The biggest hurdle for this team is going to be a revitalized Edmonton Oilers team that has the offensive power of breakout start Conor McDavid. This will make the battle for the Pacific Division more heated than it has been in recent years, and it will be very interesting to see what the Ducks can do to maintain their top spot in the division. As far as the playoffs go, it’s almost guaranteed that the Ducks will be there. Anything beyond that point can’t be speculated on at this point, but we’ll have much more information and analysis as the regular season gets underway.