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Looking ahead: A Duck fan’s perspective on potential playoff opponents

Sorry, Kings fans, but some of us bloggers have some bigger topics to cover than regular season futility and your awesome plans for the entry draft—this interlude is known as "postseason", or as you may know it, "golf season". Right now, it is fairly well set which eight western teams will be in the playoffs; what is still being determined are the match-ups.


The western playoff wheel—spin it and see who you might play!

Now I am really hoping Anaheim holds the top spot in the Pacific and the likely 2nd seed that comes with it—but even if that doesn’t hold, I’m a bit perplexed as to how to think about possible playoff opponents. It feels weird, but I don’t have an opponent I’d especially prefer the Ducks to play. Just like last year, there appear to be no cakewalk teams out west; all teams are capable of seizing a series (or seizing up in a series, for that matter).

So, while we’re in that season of waiting things out, here’s a quick listing of possible opponents for the Ducks (season series in parentheses), including:
  • blogs I read that cover each team (to varying degrees),
  • top Duck scorers against each opponent,
  • one reason I want the Ducks to play that team,
  • and one reason they scare the fuck out of me.
Really, just putting some preliminary thoughts about these opponents, no matter which round we might face them.

Detroit Red Wings (2-1-0, 9 GF, 5 GA)
  • Recommended Blogs: Abel 2 Yzerman, Behind the Jersey
  • Top Scorers (3 gms): Getzlaf 3-1-4, Kunitz 1-2-3, Perry 1-2-3
  • Why I want to play Detroit: This team reeks of fragility, from their aged netminders, to their older Chelios, to their bad-back Bertuzzi, to their mystery-ailment Zetterberg. If there’s one thing that the Ducks can do, it’s prey on the sick and weak; win or lose, the Red Wings will be a broken team.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Detroit: Red Wings will be ultra-motivated by 2003, when they became the first defending champs to get swept. Detroit is a scary puck control team; they can flat-out control a game/series while the opponent chases the puck all night. It would be interesting to see Coach Babcock on the other bench, though, contemplating how to beat playoff phenom J.S. Giguere.
Vancouver Canucks (3-0-1, 14 GF, 6 GA)

  • Recommended Blogs: Canucks & Beyond, Waiting for Stanley, Canucks Corner, Orland Kurtenblog, Canucks Hockey Blog, Stick in Rink, Jes Golbez, Hockey Numbers
  • Top Scorers (4 gms): Selanne 2-4-6, McDonald 3-1-4, Getzlaf 3-1-4
  • Why I want to play Vancouver: I would love to see the media jump all over Luongo if he starts his postseason career on a sour note. Will the people of Vancouver call for Danny Sabourin to step into the nets? After all, Sabourin is the only Canuck netminder to beat the Ducks this year (in fact the Ducks one of only two teams he’s beaten all year).
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Vancouver: I’ve seen too often the power of playoff debuts (Giguere ’03, Bryzgalov ’06), and Luongo is an awesome x-factor—he definitely has the skillset to overpower a series. Plus I’m tired of my heart stopping every time those two twins have the puck and Dipenta’s the lone guy back.
Nashville Predators (2-1-1, 10 GF, 10 GA)

  • Recommended Blog: On the Forecheck
  • Top Scorers (4 gms): Kunitz 2-4-6, Selanne 4-1-5, McDonald 0-4-4
  • Why I want to play Nashville: Nashville’s got a lot of chemistry-mixing going on, mostly because of injury timetables. Guys who might float in and out of a series include Forsberg, Sullivan, Erat, not to mention the goalie-switching of Mason and Vokoun. Their roster instability could work against them; that said, I think if I could I’d prefer to play this team in the first round, if possible, rather than later when they have things more settled.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Nashville: The forward names are pretty frightening, if and when they show up—Forsberg, Kariya, Arnott, Sullivan, Erat, Radulov, Dumont, Legwand, and I’m probably forgetting somebody. Plus, god knows what I might do to my Vishnevski jersey if the series turned sour.
San Jose Sharks (5-2-0, 27 GF, 17 GA)

  • Recommended Blogs: Sharkspage, From Behind the Mask, Sharks Hockey Odyssey, Bart’s Hockey Musings, Shaved Ice
  • Top Scorers (7 gms): Penner 6-2-8, Getzlaf 3-4-7, Pronger 2-5-7
  • Why I want to play San Jose: Blog traffic, for the most part. Really, the entire reason this blog exists is for the long-awaited day when two California teams might play something more meaningful than a regular-season game. We thought we’d achieved it when both the Ducks and Sharks were up 2 games to 0 in the conference semis last year, but I guess one freak accident upset the Sharks' karma.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by San Jose: Forget what I said about Nashville—check out this list of scary forwards: Thornton, Marleau, Michalek, Guerin, Cheechoo, Bernier, Pavelski, Bell. Shit, Burke! We need one more Norris defenseman!
Dallas Stars (3-2-1, 17 GF, 11 GA)

  • Recommended Blogs: Razor with an Edge, Andrew's Dallas Stars Page
  • Top Scorers (6 gms): McDonald 3-5-8, Selanne 4-2-6, S. Niedermayer 3-2-5
  • Why I want to play Dallas: Marty Turco, everyone’s favorite fall-apart goaltender. I think the reputation is a bit overplayed, but certainly it is something that can be exploited and fed upon.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Dallas: They were a good enough team (when healthy) before, but then picked up the services of Nagy and Norstrom to boot, from two teams within their own division!! Hey, thanks a lot, Kings and Coyotes! Just because the other guy’s in a different time zone doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing him 8 times a year!
Minnesota Wild (2-1-1, 10 GF, 9 GA)

  • Recommended Blogs: Wild Puck Banter, Puck Wild
  • Top Scorers (4 gms): S. Niedermayer 3-3-6, Selanne 2-2-4, McDonald 1-1-2
  • Why I want to play Minnesota: Oh, the legend of J.S. Giguere hit its all-time high against the Minnesota Wild, by allowing one goal on 123 shots in more than 13 periods of hockey. They haven’t been to the postseason since.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Minnesota: Well, other than the obvious "vengeance" thing, I think the Wild team is pretty damn consistently good and whoever plays their nets has always had good numbers. I don’t know if I’ve come clean about this on the blog, but I am somewhat of a closet Wild fan—their system is pretty fascinating to watch, and it can generate glorious chances.
Calgary Flames (2-2-0, 11 GF, 10 GA)

  • Recommended Blogs: Battle of Alberta, Five Hole Fanatics, double d(ion), Real Deal Hockey, Open Ice Hits, Completely Hammered, Hit the Post
  • Top Scorers (4 gms): Pronger 0-4-4, Pahlsson 2-1-3, Selanne 2-1-3
  • Why I want to play Calgary: Well, this will have been the only team we’ve bested in the postseason with Carlyle behind the bench, and even though I think both teams have improved since a year ago, there are chinks in Kiprusoff’s armor now.
  • Why I’m scared shitless by Calgary: This team no longer scores seldomly any more; they have (quietly?) become the second-highest scoring team in the western conference. I could definitely see this series once again getting fought to a seventh game, except this time the tables would be turned—now they’re the ones with Jeff Friesen.
One thing to note: more than half these teams (and even Colorado, should they manage a Rocky Mountain miracle) lost their last postseason game against the (Mighty) Ducks. There may be a lot of vendetta ahead, Duck fans.

Question for anybody: who in the west (including Anaheim) would you want as a preferable opponent? And which team is it that scares the shit out of you?