(SportsNetwork.com) – The Anaheim Ducks showed tremendous resiliency during
the regular season and continued to display their penchant for comeback
victories in the opening round.
The Ducks swept Winnipeg in four games, but it wasn’t easy as the Jets carried
a one-goal lead into the third period of the first three meetings only to see
Anaheim rally for wins each time. The lone exception was the Game 4 clincher,
which ended with a 5-2 Ducks’ victory.
Anaheim set an NHL record in the regular season by coming back for 18 wins
when trailing at any point during the third period. After its resilient first-
round performance against Winnipeg, it’s obviously never safe to count these
Ducks out of a game.
Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks advanced past the opening round for a second
straight spring, but the club hasn’t made it past this point since winning its
only Stanley Cup in 2007. Last spring, Anaheim beat Dallas in Round 1 before
falling in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings in the conference semifinals.
The Ducks held a 3-2 lead over the Kings before dropping the final two tests
against the eventual champions.
While Anaheim hasn’t made it past the second round in eight years, Boudreau
has never advanced to the conference finals in either of his two head coaching
stints with Washington or the Ducks.
The Ducks led all teams in goals per game (4.0) during the first round,
posting 16 goals during the sweep. Anaheim saw 10 different players hit the
net against Winnipeg with Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler leading the way with
three goals apiece.
Perry also paced Anaheim in points with seven, while Jakob Silfverberg was
next with six points on two goals and four assists. Kesler, an excellent two-
way player, had five points, tying him with Sami Vatanen, who led the Ducks
defense with two goals, three assists and a plus-four rating.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf had a solid series with a goal and three assists. The
centerman has 78 points (26G, 52A) in 85 career postseason games. Perry,
Getzlaf’s longtime linemate, has 25 goals and 63 points in 78 contests during
his playoff career.
All told, Anaheim had 11 players record at least two points in the opening
round. The balanced scoring attack served the Ducks well on the power play, as
they tallied three times on 11 chances against the Jets for a success rate of
Anaheim did a solid job of containing Winnipeg’s offense, keeping the Jets
speedy players to the outside for the most part. Francois Beauchemin did the
heavy lifting in terms of minutes on the back end, leading the Ducks blue line
with an average ice time of 23 minutes, 33 seconds. Beauchemin had two assists
in the series.
Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm both averaged over 21 minutes per game in Round 1.
Lindholm recorded three assists.
Simon Despres, Cam Fowler and Clayton Stoner round out the defensive rotation.
Fowler had a goal and an assist against the Jets, while Stoner was second to
Vatanen on the blue line with a plus-three rating.
Frederik Andersen had a solid series between the pipes, posting a 2.20 goals
against average and .924 save percentage through the four games. The 25-year-
old Dane owns a 7-2 career mark in the postseason.
Andersen helped anchor a solid penalty-killing effort in the opening round, as
the Ducks allowed only two goals over 13 Winnipeg power plays.
Jason LaBarbera could still serve as the second option in net for the Ducks as
John Gibson has been sidelined with an upper-body injury.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 45-30-7 (3rd place, Pacific)
2015 PLAYOFFS: Defeated Vancouver 4-2 in conference quarterfinals
The Flames ended a five-season playoff drought in 2014-15 thanks in large part
to their ability to outplay the opposition in the third period. Fittingly,
Calgary punched its first ticket to the second round in over a decade with a
tremendous final period.
Calgary won its first playoff series since 2004 by eliminating the Vancouver
Canucks in six games. For a while, however, it looked like the Flames were
going to need a seventh game to get past the Canucks.
Vancouver jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period of Game 6 in Calgary,
only to let the Flames tie it up before the six-minute mark of the second
stanza. Calgary also trailed 4-3 after 40 minutes before the Flames stormed
back to earn the 7-4 series-clinching victory.
Calgary had 10 third-period comeback wins during the regular season to finish
third in the NHL and led the league with 99 third-period goals. The Flames
outscored the Canucks by a 9-4 margin over the final 20 minutes of regulation
in the first round.
Prior to his club’s Game 6 victory, Flames head coach Bob Hartley pointed to
his young roster’s conditioning as a reason Calgary has been able to finish
strong in games all season long.
“We have great athletes,” Hartley said. “We work on our conditioning all year
long and I think that our conditioning is paying off.”
Calgary averaged three goals per game in the opening round and received
excellent production from its top line, which is a combination of young and
Left wing Johnny Gaudreau, aka “Johnny Hockey,” and centerman Sean Monahan are
part of the youth movement in Calgary, but they combined with veteran right
winger Jiri Hudler to form a dangerous top line.
Gaudreau, a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, tied
with Hudler for the team lead in points during the first round. The 2014 Hobey
Baker Award winner out of Boston College had six points on two goals and a
team-high four assists. Hudler paced the club with three goals while also
adding three helpers.
Monahan chipped in with two goals and three assists against Vancouver.
Sam Bennett, an 18-year-old rookie who didn’t make his NHL debut until earlier
this month, played in all six games for Calgary in the opening round and
notched two goals and an assist. Veteran David Jones also had a strong series
with two goals and three helpers.
Another rookie, 23-year-old Michael Ferland, set the physical tone of the
series with his ability to deliver crushing checks. He also scored twice in
Game 6 and added two assists in the series.
Although top defenseman Mark Giordano has been out since tearing his biceps
muscle on Feb. 25, the Flames were able to have a very productive series
T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman each delivered four points from
the back end and the trio helped Calgary excel on the power play. The Flames
went 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) with the man advantage after finishing the
regular season with a power-play success rate of 18.8 percent.
Giordano has been skating on his own, but isn’t expected to be available for
the second round. He could be back in game action if Calgary makes it to the
Deryk Engelland, David Schlemko and Tyler Wotherspoon also will log minutes
for Calgary in the second round. Corey Potter started over Wotherspoon in the
first two games of the first round, but the latter defenseman eventually
pushed Potter to the press box.
Jonas Hiller started all six games in net for the Flames and is expected to
head into Round 2 as the No. 1 option in net. Backup Karri Ramo did earn the
win in the clincher, however, after taking over early in Game 6 when Hiller
allowed two goals on Vancouver’s first three shots.
Hiller was excellent against the Canucks for the most part, registering a 2.20
GAA and .931 save percentage for the series. The 33-year-old Swiss netminder
played his first seven seasons in Anaheim before leaving via free agency last
With both teams success in the third period this season, this has the
potential to be a very exciting playoff matchup.
The Pacific Division rivals met five times during the regular season and the
last encounter was in Calgary on March 11 when the Flames notched a 6-3
victory behind a two-goal performance from Gaudreau.
The Ducks won the season series with a 3-1-1 record and claimed both meetings
on home ice.
Getzlaf was the most productive player for Anaheim during the season series,
potting four goals and adding one assist. Perry had one goal and three helpers
against the Flames.
Wideman compiled seven points (2G, 5A) against the Ducks, while Gaudreau had
two goals and five points. Hudler and Monahan each had three goals in the
Hiller struggled a bit against his old team this season, going 1-2-0 with a
3.43 GAA in four games (3 starts). Andersen, meanwhile, went 2-0-1 with a 2.60
GAA in three outings against Calgary.
Anaheim enters the series as the clear favorites, but the Flames have been
proving the critics wrong all season long and it would be foolish to look past
The Flames have young legs and enough speed to skate with a fast Ducks team,
but Anaheim has a size advantage and that should help wear down Calgary over
the course of a seven-game series.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Ducks in 7