It was much of the same for the Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16: A 100-point regular season followed by a Game 7 loss at home in the playoffs. As a result of the mounting postseason heartbreaks, the Ducks have gone back to the future. Out as coach is the player-friendly Bruce Boudreau, and returning is predecessor Randy Carlyle, the noted taskmaster who guided the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup 2007.
The Ducks last year continued their run of high-level success in the regular season with 103 points and a Pacific Division championship. Anaheim not only allowed the league's fewest goals (2.29 GAA) but also was the first team since the 1985 Islanders to lead the NHL in both special teams. The Ducks converted a league-high 23.1 percent of power plays while killing 87.2 percent of opponents' man advantages. So yeah, the Ducks were once again excellent in the regular season. But then came the playoffs and another Anaheim failure. This time, it was an early first-round exit to the Nashville Predators in seven games.
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2016-17 Anaheim Ducks Outlook
It will be interesting to see how the return of Carlyle will impact the Ducks. He obviously had big-time success in his last go around, and two-thirds of Anaheim's big three (Corey Perry and Ryan Getlaf) was here for that title run. Only Ryan Kesler (21 G, 53 Pts) will be new to Carlyle.
That familiarity would seem a positive, but there are reasons for concern. Sports history tells us returning coaches rarely, if ever, match their previous success; and this is a largely aging roster with a narrowing window of opportunity.
With that said, a change in culture was certainly needed in Anaheim, and Carlyle is a proven winner. A key to success for the Ducks this season will be the performance of the big three's supporting cast. Some would argue the Ducks were already over-reliant on Perry, Getlaf and Kesler. It could be even more pronounced this season. Anaheim lost two 30-point scorers this offseason (Jamie McGinn, David Perron), leaving to wonder where the secondary scoring will come from for the Ducks.
Defensively, Anaheim isn't filled with All Stars, just a rock-solid group that allowed the fewest goals in the league last year. Sami Vatanen (9 goals, 38 points) is the top scorer from the blue line, while Hampus Lindholm is the unit's best two-way player. Given the attacking concerns of the Ducks, another elite season defensively would seem paramount.
2016-17 Anaheim Ducks Future Odds
The Ducks are +1600 to win the Stanley Cup. Anaheim is the +225 favorite with the Kings to win the Pacific Division and is the +650 third-choice to win the Western Conference. The Ducks "over/under" for season points is set at 91.
2016-17 Anaheim Ducks Schedule
It won't be an easy start for the Ducks . Anaheim opens with four-game eastern road swing with stops in Dallas, Pittsburgh, New York to face the Islanders, and finally New Jersey. The Ducks home opener is Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. Also note, Anaheim closes the season at home against the arch-rival Los Angeles Kings. Anaheim edged Los Angeles by one point last year to win the Pacific Division title.
Anaheim Ducks 2016-17 Predictions
Many are expecting the Ducks to take a step back this season. Perry, Getlaf and Kesler are all now in their early 30s and at the back-end of their careers. You wonder how much mileage is left on their skates after all the years of playoff battles. Any slip in production from the big three likely spells doom for a Ducks team that lacks any real offensive depth.
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