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NHL Rants: How Not to Defend a Championship

October 9, 2007 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post

Lose playoff MVP and a No. 1 defenseman? Check.

Lose replacement for playoff MVP/No. 1 defenseman? Check.

Lose leading goal scorer and heart-and-soul franchise player? Check.

Lose Selke finalist? Check.

Lose starting goalie? Check.

Start with a ridiculously tough road schedule that crosses the Atlantic Freakin’ Ocean? Check.

Man, it’s tough to be a Duck these days, and Brian Burke must be as pissed off as Daffy Duck losing to Bugs Bunny (or worse, Brian Burke losing to…well, anyone).

With Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne still in limbo, and Sammy Pahlsson, Mathieu Schneider, and J.S. Giguere still injured, things are not happy in Anaheim, and the stats prove it. Let’s take a look at who’s having problems:

  • Andy MacDonald: MacDonald’s missing the scoring ability of buddy Teemu Selanne. In fact, MacDonald’s only managed to record one even-strength point in five games, and his -3 isn’t a good way to start the young season.
  • Francois Beauchemin: Despite having four assists, times have bee tough on Beauchemin, who’s having a difficult time with an expanded penalty killing role. Hey, at least he has a short-handed point so far.
  • Bobby Ryan: The heir-apparent to power forward Dustin Penner, Ryan played so awesome that he was booted back down to the minor leagues. That doesn’t mean that he may not return later in the year, but he hasn’t really helped fill the void created by Penner’s departure to Edmonton.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov: The No. 2 netminder in Anaheim isn’t offering total disaster numbers like Tomas Vokoun in Florida — heck, he stole the show in a shootout loss in Detroit — but he’s not getting a lot of help. In fact, the Ducks are averaging more than 30 shots-against per game, and considerng how defensively sound this team was last season, that’s not a good thing.

Of course, the fat lady hasn’t sung this early in the season, but it’s still an ominous start. Once the Ducks get rolling at the Honda Center and settle back in (the schedule maker must really, really, really hate the fact that a California team won the Stanley Cup), the team should steady itself back into shape. The return of Giguere, Pahlsson, and Schneider will make things better on the defensive end, and since Randy Carlyle’s team has the speed and smarts to play a hot transition game, that will only make the offense better. And if Niedermayer and Selanne return, well, then the sky’s the limit.

But for now, if you have other options on your fantasy team besides a row of tired Ducks, best to put any Anaheim guys on the bench for the short term. After all, these Ducks need all the rest they can get.

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