The Ducks have been playing good-to-amazing hockey of late, depending on your opinion on the postseason beatability of the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche. Myself, I view Calgary as a defensive powerhouse and Colorado as an offensive powerhouse. The problems with these squads is that they are very average-or-below when out of their comfort zone (Calgary generating offense or Colorado playing shut-down hockey). Still, it is encouraging that the Ducks were able to exploit both squads' weaknesses.
The goal-differential stats might not on-the-surface seem that impressive, but consider this: J.S. Giguere, who played in games 2-5 of the opening round, is hurt. Or terrible. Or both.
Since Bryzgalov took over (1:03 of the 2nd period in game 5), the Ducks have gone 6-0 and outscored their opponents 23 - 5. Now true, these stats always look pretty with 3 straight shutouts [Ducks 11, Opponents 0], but you know what? The shutouts were pretty.
So, all that being said, here are 5 reasons why the Ducks will be dangerous:
- 4-Line Attack--The Ducks have gotten contributions from all four lines. 15 different Ducks have scored or assisted on game-winning goals.
- Penalty-Killing is outstanding (although Jiggy can hurt us)--The Ducks have killed all 40 man-down situations with Bryzgalov in net.
- Bryzgalov is in another world, and that might just work--How do you intimidate a guy who cares more about world hunger than a trivial playoff game?
- Young and aggressive players--The Ducks have gotten 7 goals and 20 assists from their 5 rookies (Kunitz, Penner, Getzlaf, Perry, and Beauchemin)
- Rest/Health--The biggest impact on our roster was Jonathan Hedstrom bolting back to Sweden. Corey Perry has been ready to go the entire Colorado series, but couldn't crack the lineup with the team winning.
Meanwhile, here are 5 reasons the Ducks are in trouble:
- Teemu Selanne: Second Period Sensation?--Someone on the opposition should look back and realize that Selanne has scored 9 of his 10 postseason points in the 2nd period. The top line has 18 of its 23 points in 2nd periods.
- Power Play sucks--It doesn't get noticed so much since our PK keeps working, but even during our six-game streak, the PP is 3-of-29 (10.3%) while allowing a short-handed goal.
- Bryzgalov is in another world, and that could backfire--Is it really encouraging when your goaltender has much larger concerns than stopping the puck?
- Young and inexperienced players--It hasn't caught us yet, but it is a concern.
- Rust/Slipping play--The Ducks haven't played since May 11th, and so they will have to pick it up again. Even in their last two games in Denver, they allowed more chances than usual, but that could have been an altitude factor.
Who knows how good we really are? Our next opponent promises to bring a balance of offense and defense that our earlier opponents clearly lacked. All told, it seems like the buildup to a really good WC Finals.