Heavy-hitting Anaheim Ducks have a need for speed
Speed or heavy hitters? That’s the age old question in the NHL when formulating the perfect team.
For the Anaheim Ducks, heavy hitting has always been their thing.
But league wide, the trend has been speed. And, really, it has been ever since the lock out.
While everyone was grabbing up speed demons post lock out, the Ducks stuck to what they knew – heavy hitters.
And it worked. Hello, 2007 Stanley Cup.
Going against the grain worked out solid for the Ducks in the past – is that still the best move?
Let’s talk about the San Jose Sharks SWEEPING the Ducks in the Playoffs.
(MOANS and GROANS)
Sorry folks, but this horrific series is directly relevant.
The glaring issue from the sweep in the Playoffs heavily revolved around speed.
The Sharks aren’t exactly a speed team in the realm of the whole league. The Sharks themselves were outclassed by the speed of the upstart Las Vegas Cinderellas. However, in the Sharks vs. Ducks series it might as well have been Usain Bolt vs. Mike Tyson.
Maybe in the rough and tumble days ten years ago we would’ve been solid, but now, teams aren’t getting sucked in.
Teams are playing smart and we’re just getting stuck in the penalty box to be scored on power plays.
The Sharks scored SIX power play goals in the series sweep.
Furthermore, teams who are already playing fast are gearing up in other ways.
Who am I talking about? Check out this list of names and new acquisitions in the Pacific: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames), Max Pacioretty (Vegas Golden Knights), Erik Karlsson (Sharks).
The Pacific is getting stronger and faster.
The days of the Ducks being the regular season heroes of the Pacific have come to an end.
The Los Angeles Kings can match their physicality. The Sharks can beat them with a broom—and now have two of the top four defensemen in the league. Vegas has introduced a new speed element which is devastating to the division. The Oilers will have defenses on their heels the entire game with lights out speed. Calgary is a dumpster fire that still has the ability to burn you — get it, Flames?
Sorry, I had to — you all know how I am with my puns.
Look — I’m not completely going all in against a core of heavy hitters. Being the heavy team in the Pacific is definitely an advantage for us in many ways. But having one threat is no longer enough seeing how the league is continuously adapting.
Like it or not, the time for change has officially arrived in Anaheim.
Even Ducks GM Bob Murray is acknowledging the team’s need for speed per NHL.com.
“We needed to get faster, so the primary goal was to add some speed up front with some depth signings,” general manager Bob Murray said. “… We did inquire about other big names on the market over the last week, but found the prices extremely high. We will continue to look to improve our team in other areas.”
Adding some speed will diversify our lineup and give us a healthy advantage in areas that need improvement.
Andrew Cogliano has always been the Ducks’ go to speedster amongst the core, but as it’s now readily apparent — we need more.
The acquisition of Rowney and Gibbons should help, but overall, Anaheim was pretty quiet this offseason and two new fourth line additions won’t be over the top improvements.
The hope of Ducks fans is that the fourth line ends up populated by some of the high speed prospects like Sam Steel or Troy Terry. Those hopes hinge on those rookies earning their spots, first though.
Judging by our lack of change in the roster this offseason, expect to see transition and change coming in the form of pace and play.
Instead of cycling the puck low, start looking for more North-South transition play.
The Ducks still have a solid roster heading into the season and certainly have the opportunity to contend, but it will be interesting to see if this season plays out as a transition period to adapt to speed changes or if they will continue to attempt to muscle teams out old school.
Either way, I’m just stoked hockey is almost back. Am I the only one who is dying to watch some more gloves off brawls?
***Releases sigh of bliss***
Amen to you, hockey.