The Jets have the Ducks’ number, and that’s a bit scary
The Ducks have a very difficult path to the Stanley Cup Final this year — even the Conference Finals, really. Despite getting recognized as the top seed in the Western Conference, Anaheim must contend with the hottest teams from north of the border — and I can promise you those teams will not go quietly.
The Ducks are cornered with the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Flames or Canucks will take each other out since they play each other in the fist round, but there’s no ignoring Winnipeg.
The Jets come into the playoffs as the dark horse team of the West that no one is really sure what to expect. They made the playoffs by a rather slim margin but nonetheless find themselves in the mix for a chance to, if nothing else, play spoiler.
And trust me, that’s all they’ve been thinking about in Jet territory.
The Ducks are no stranger to playoff collapses. In the last two seasons and playoff appearances for Anaheim, both times have ended in the second round and as a result of blowing a 3-2 series lead — both times also occurred when the Ducks finished first in their respective division.
Guess where they finished in the Pacific Division this year?
The Jets know all too well what they are capable of and have no problem playing keep away from Anaheim. The Ducks were caught off guard plenty of times by the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings, so if the Jets can keep the Ducks guessing they have a serious chance at playing the upset card in round one.
The Ducks just hope history doesn’t repeat itself this time around.
If the Ducks do find their way past the Jets and into the Conference Semis, they’ll have to face the winner of the Calgary Flames – Vancouver Canucks series — unfortunately, there’s a small problem with that.
The winner of the Calgary-Vancouver series has gone on to be present in the Stanley Cup Final in every instance the two teams have faced each other in the post season — including Calgary’s 2004 run which ended at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Here’s the series in one sentence: Anaheim will have their hands full.
Players to Watch:
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) : Getzlaf leads the Ducks in points (70) as well as assists (45). There’s no question that he is going to be the biggest offensive weapon that top-seeded Anaheim has under their belt. Sure, defense can get a team a championship, but to get to the championship game or games, that team has to score more than their opponent. Thankfully for the Ducks, Getzlaf gets it done on the offensive side of the ice.
Josh Gibson (ANA) : Gibson is the reason the Ducks had a chance in Game 7 of last year’s Conference Semis to beat the Los Angeles Kings. Gibson kept the Ducks alive — yet, barely breathing, of course — but he did it as a playoff rookie with little (practically zero) playoff experience. Anaheim would be beyond foolish not to give him a couple chances in net — heck, it could cost them the series.
Andrew Ladd (WPG) : Like Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd leads his team in both points (62) and assists (38). We aren’t entirely sure what to solidly predict from the Jets’ offense — it can change with the pace of different games so well that it’s kind of frightening. With that, Ladd could score one goal and have just as much, maybe even more, of an impact as Getzlaf going off for an insane performance. But at the end of the day, Ladd getting a taste of the playoffs with come into play too.
Dustin Byfuglien (WPG) : Byfulgien leads the Jets in penalty minutes (124 so far), and that;s not exactly a good thing. Particularly for a team like Winnipeg, penalty minutes really clamp down on their offensive production. They tend to play a form of shy hockey until the closing minutes and any sort of late, foolish mistakes could cost them dearly (especially when it comes to getting a road victory, which is a must). As long as Byfuglien can change up his tendency to get overly-physical, the Jets will be okay.
Prediction: While it is almost over-compelling to pick Winnipeg as the upset pick, there just seems to be something extremely different about this Anaheim Ducks team compared to previous years. The experience, momentum, and desire for recognition will be on the line in this series — and the Ducks will find a way to squeeze it out in seven games.
But expect Winnipeg to take control of the series often and early. The only thing that’ll doom the Jets is getting ahead of themselves, but it happens.
Ducks 4 , Jets 3