In what now feels like an annual ritual, Meet Bob Murray’s New D.

Posted: 07/25/2012 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The depth chart is fairly easy to project. Absent is a clear #1 who goes over the boards in all situations. Our new Ducks back line is a D by committee. Such is life after the departures of first Chris Pronger, followed by the retirement of Scott Niedermayer. In hindsight we were sure treated to something very special. Given the talent and complimentary skill sets of the survivors, at least Frankie Beachemin is a link to the Prongs/Nieds era taking Lubo back may not be the worst thing, if that be the outcome. The old cliche’  ‘Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make’ is appropriate.
For now at least, lets address what is in front of us. Even if Lubo returns, it will remain a D by committee. As of this moment, Cam Fowler is the last guy you use in all situations.
Beauchemin heads the depth chart as he’s the most serviceable in all situations. He’s become a smart hockey player willing to sacrifice for his team. In that sense Beauch is a genuine heart and soul guy out there. Beauch will most likely continue to partner with Cam Fowler in ES situations and Bryan Allen or Luca Sbisa when Gabby wants to counter with physical match-ups
Cam Fowler is No. 2 with a bullet as they say in music. Cam will see ES time with Beauch, but Coach won’t be shy about sending Fowler out there with Allen or Sbisa. Expect to see him sharing 1st unit PP time with Sheldon Souray. Also don’t be surprised if Cam is out there for an entire PP. One thing Fowler has is the ability to pace himself and impact the tempo of the game.
I could be wrong of course but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pair Fowler with Lydman. Cam needs a physical presence beside him. Also next to Fowler, Lydman might be our best play-making D-man. It could be tempting to toss them out against the opposition’s depth lines though. Lydman might also see some PP time with Cam behind Souray.
Such is life with D by committee. There are always spot situations where you can stray from the script.
At ES, Souray is most likely anchoring the 3rd unit with one of Lydman, Allen, or Sbisa.
PK units are from Beauchemin, Sbisa, Allen, Lydman.

At risk of restating the obvious, Coach and Brad Lauer have a lot of options. The challenges are also obvious. Those six guys will share 4920 minutes of TOI over 82 games. OT is excluded. As the minutes are divided up (apparently divied isn’t a word) the spread might be Souray at 14-16 minutes and the top TOI at 24-26 minutes. Nate Guenin looks to be the leading candidate 7 on the depth chart. He’s pushed by Jordan Hendry and Mat Clark.
Our Ducks D depth-wise is better now than at any time during the post Hall of Fame D era.

  1. czhokej says:

    How would you rate them as a group compared to other teams (without Lubo), if everybody is healthy? Do you think that Lydman’s decline the past season was caused mostly by his injury (or injuries)? (Or was it the problem with his D partner or the system we have played? ) From 3 goals, 22 assists and amazing (+-) +32 in 2011, he went to 0 goals. 13 assists, and +- 0. In 2011 Toni was our #1 PK guy, and Beauch was #2. But even in 2012 season Lydman played a lot of SH minutes (2nd behind Francois B.). Another interesting comparison is giveaways stats: 2011 Beauch 90, Lydman 38, 2012: 47 FB, 35 TL.
    Fowler is now almost overdue for some significant improvement.
    Overall I am glad that we got some size, but I am not so sure about playmaking. Our Ds need to score more, I just hope that Souray will have another good year (?) like 08-09.

    • bc says:

      Souray, who has mean streak and Allen bring back some long missing snarl on the blue line. Not to take anything away from Luca Sbisa, who was our leading hitter last season or tough as nails Francois Beauchemin, they will appreciate and be better with the additional smash, bash, crash and trash brought by Souray and Allen.
      Souray is a monster in the low slot and corners. In the open ice he has a tendency to get beat by quick and shifty forwards. He has a tendency to cough up the biscuit as he’s below average at puck handling. At the far end, Souray releases a cannon from the point.
      Bryan Allen has some all-purpose ability but will be used mostly in a shut down role. Still, he pot the occasional goal and make a good play leading to a goal. The biggest knock on him is a tendency to get injured but he’s played at least 72 games in each season since the lockout.
      If Lydman doesn’t have a bounce back season, look for Allen to pass him on the depth chart. He may pass Lydman anyway when Coach prefers a more physical match-up.
      No matter how you slice and dice it, Beauchemin, Fowler, Sbisa and Lydman should benefit from having a couple more big bangers back there.
      This also adds an element to the backcheck as forwards will begin to skate their checks into the waiting bang and bash these big boys bring.
      The downside of course is our PIMS stat is expected to go up. Hello Daniel Winnick.
      On paper at least, Barstool Bob has improved our Ducks significantly in those two areas. There looks to be enough talent and complimentary skill sets on this team to give Coach options. Against physical teams like the Kings and Coyotes, look for Allen to be logging the big minutes. Against the smaller flash and dash teams like Dallas and Vancouver the more agile Lydman will be getting the match-up call.
      Overall cz, I like the makeup of this D. There remain many questions that won’t be answered until the puck drops in October. A few of those are:
      Did Beauchemin have a career year in 2011-12 or can we expect that level of compete to continue for a season or two or three?
      Will Lydman bounce back?
      Does Sbisa take another step by avoiding the slumps he experienced last season. I think he will as Luca became a much smarter player last season.
      Kinda disagree with the sentiment that Cam Fowler should be further along in his development. He seems right on schedule given the 5 year learning for developing an NHL D-man. Sometimes, when an exceptional talent is asked to develop at the NHL level, the path can be a bit choppy. With and without the puck, Cam needs to pick his spots better. He possess all the skills to be another Nieds or the underrated Sergei Zubov. Look for Fowler to begin to put it together in 2012-13.
      With a backup like Jonas HIller and some help from the forwards, this is a group that can play with a lot of intelligence and courage. Beauchemin and Sbisa are the keys.They are the two most likely to play in all situations.

  2. czhokej says:

    Ok, thanks, bc. Now what about forwards. I do not feel that we have enough firepower in the front, I do not believe that we can keep the puck in the offensive zone for extended periods of time and create a lot of chances. I am afraid, that without another good player, we will be just an average team. (Pessimistic as usual).

    • bc says:

      We covered the forwards here.
      The big questions haven’t changed cz. On paper this team is better than last. Can a third scoring line be built around or anchored by Bobby Ryan? Will they make an effort shift to shift and game to game? Will the team come together early and win in the first half? Are their 4 lines and 3 D units that Gabby can go to as the situation demands. We have enough talent to fill 2 PP units. Will the PK hold up as our PIMS increase over last season?
      The cavalry in the form of snarl brought by Staubitz, Souray and Allen were each on non-playoff teams last season. We shouldn’t expect those 3 to propel these Ducks into the playoffs.
      It starts with Getzlaf. Does he want it badly enough to prepare and put over an entire season. Untiol he shows something else, I say he’s a slacker.

  3. czhokej says:

    I had to go there to refresh my memory (old man).

  4. bbdux93 says:

    We still have $16.5m in cap space, take away the $3.5m we speculate as an internal required reserve and we have $13m to spend. We have 11 forwards under contract which means we have two spots available. Jason Blake and Rod Pelly are shown as UFA and I believe neither will be resigned.

    Maybe (here’s hoping) mgmt is waiting for the opportunity to sign Doan and nothing significant will be done until he signs here or with another team. With a strong signing we could address two problems at the same time, push Getz to perform like we think he can and add some depth to our offense.

    • bc says:

      Alexander Semin just signed a one year $7m contract to play on the Carolina Hurricanes in 2012-13. Doan is really the last impact player available via UFA. Not that Semin made much of an impact last season. Could be why the one year term.
      With all the chatter around Doan, nothing indicates that his preference has changed. He’ll stay in Phoenix or look to a West Coast team.
      Let’s re-phrase the question, bb if you’re Shane Doan would you rather play alongside Anze Kopitar, Carter/Richards, Joe Thornton, Daniel and Henrik Sedin or Ryan Getzlaf?
      Trading Bobby Ryan makes no sense. Management seems committed to Getzlaf. Unless and until Corey Perry grows tired of his act.
      My still ample gut hunch is our Ducks enter training camp intent on giving the kids a chance. If Palmieri, Holland and/or Etem show they’re not quite ready AND our Ducks are in the playoff hunt, look for a trade anytime after the 20 game mark.
      Following the Burke era, Henry Samueli hasn’t shown much interest in spending to the cap.

  5. bbdux93 says:

    BC – regarding who Doan would rather play with. Playing on a line with Bobby and pushing Getz would be interesting to some people – would it interest Doan – who knows.

    If he’s looking for the best chance at a Cup it would probably not be with the Ducks. OTOH the Canucks are turning into another Sharks – chockers and that leaves the Kings. Are the Kings good enough to win back to back Cups – not if you look at their regular season stats last year. Can they expect to squeek into the play-offs again and dominate other teams – I doubt that. So – there is the possibility Doan would take the Ducks over the other 3 teams you mentioned.

    If Murray wants to make this off season look like he knows how to make good hockey decisions and humble his arrogant self a bit, signing Doan gives him the perfect opportunity to secure his job for a bit longer.

  6. czhokej says:

    What if Lubo stays? I was toying with the idea of using him (or another D) as a defensive forward on a shut down line. I know that hardly ever any coach does that, but to me it’s intriguing.

    • bc says:

      Not sure Lubo is a checking forward but he has great wheels and could/might maybe center a line. Sheldon Brookbank and Steve Montador are two recent Ducks who could and did move up seeing spot action at forward.
      Back in the day Boston Bruins experimented in practice slotting Bobby Orr at center. The idea was scrapped after Harry Sinden explained, “His game slipped to tremendous.”
      Perhaps the most successful transition of all time was when former Red Wing D-man Red Kelly was traded to Toronto where he played forward for Punch Imlach’s Leafs.
      Have to admit cz, the notion of Lubo centering Bobby Ryan and one of the newbies (DSP, Palmieri, Etem) is at least interesting if not downright intriguing.
      We may also be accused of spending too much time in the sun 🙂

  7. czhokej says:

    When I said that Fowler is due to show some improvement, I did not expect a major improvement, I know it takes time. Cam impressed me with his puck handling skills and skating ability. However, he is still very young. He needs to get stronger, and learn all the tricks (including the dirty ones) . But he was making the same mistakes game after game. People get inside position on him easily, he gets caught out of position, he often plays the puck when he should play the body.
    Sbisa (almost two years older) needed that time to make some necessary adjustments to his game, and his development was really really impressive.
    About Lubo (same age as Doan) – if healthy, he could still provide some significant scoring from the blue line (or from other spots). Is it a good trade Lubo for a second round draft pick? Look, Doan had 20 goals, 60 points, +5 in 2011, (and 22 goals 50 points, -8 in 2012). Lubo had 18 goals, 68 points and +18 in 2011, and in 2012 (due to his injury, I believe) he had 6G, 27 points, and + 7. So Visnovsky’s stats in 2011 look much better than Doan’s numbers.

    • bc says:

      Two things Cam could do to take his game up a notch (1) learn this, he really tries to do way too much out there. It’s like he’s trying to force the turnover and turn the back up ice when all he needs to do is create a loose a puck and rely on his teammates; and, (2) Cam seems strong in his skates. In the small ice, he would do well to learn how to position his body to get maximum leverage against bigger opponents. Scott Niedermayer was a master of the technique. Cam may need to strengthen his thighs to get max drive up into his opponents.
      Also, just a gut hunch but look for Gabby to give him the green light to join the attack more often.
      BTW cz, at least 3 times yesterday I accidentally deleted responses to your post while trying to type on the laptop. A couple-few other times I managed to open other pages.Talk about working in a cramped area. And Retired Hockey Mom wants me to transition further down to a cell phone. Yeah, right. Sign me up 😉

  8. tearingitup says:

    BC.. interesting about Red Kelly……I remember his grandson coaching my son

    • bc says:

      Did you ever get to meet Red? By today’s standards he might considered something of a renascence man. Kelly also served as a respected Member of Parliament. Former agent and flim flam man Alan Eagleson ran against. him and lost.
      In his playing days, 1947 -1967, Kelly is the only player to be part of two (50’s Red Wing & 60’s Leafs) of the NHL’s nine recognized dynasties. In 1954 he was runner-up for the Hart Trophy and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman, the first time the trophy was awarded and also won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1951, 1953 and 1954 as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.
      That’s what is most remarkable about Red Kelly. How many guys were candidates for the Hart, Norris and Lady Byng? In 1960 Kelly was traded to Toronto where Punch Imlach asked him to play center. Kelly teamed up with Frank Mahovolich to form a pretty successful twosome. He’s also most responsible for frustrating Habs great Jean Beliveau, Wings Alex Delvechio and legendary Stan Makita.

  9. tearingitup says:

    no contact with him….just the grandson Rick

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