Ducks believe at mid-season – Part I

Posted: 03/11/2013 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

At the mid-point you have to say that 18-3-3 is no longer a great start. It’s a great half-season. In an 82 game schedule our Ducks would be just rounding the quarter pole. The season is different. It’s a sprint rather than a grind.

At the team barbecue last summer Ryan Getzlaf talked about it taking a team to win. On the day he signed his new contract Bob Murray talked about how Getz has grown into the role of captain. No doubt Ryan Getzlaf is now showing the promise of realized potential. If it weren’t for that pesky Sidney Crosby, Getz would or should be the leading Hart/MVP candidate.

As he said himself, it takes a team to win. While Ryan Getzlaf is the most dominant force our send over the boards, he is only part of what makes this Ducks team the most successful, in terms of won/lost record.

The goaltending tandem of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have kept our Ducks in games and given them a chance to win every time out.

“It’s a 180 degree turn from last season,” Hiller noted, “Last year we played not to lose. This season we’re playing to win.”

Playing to win is an attitude missing from our Ducks since the 2009-10 season. That Cup team had a swagger to it. This team is more humble. It’s a quiet confidence reinforced by the belief in a record of 18-3-3 and trust in your teammates.

Our Ducks Cup team played aggressive in your face hockey. As the brash Chris Pronger said of opposing teams and their fans, “(We like to) Send ’em home cryyyyying.” This team issues a “Show us what you’ve got” challenge then proceed to pick the opposition apart with quick strikes before working the clock and shutting down the opposition.

Getzlaf calls it boring hockey. Purists would agree. To fans, winning is never boring.

Corey Perry deflected the temptation to “think bigger” when prodded by OCR beat reporter Eric Stephens. “I think we take it one game at a time. I mean we’re at the half-way point and we still have a lot of hockey left. If we keep continuing to play the way we are, we’re going to put ourselves in a good position.”

Perry added, “We play our system. Everyone in here knows what’s going on, what they’re role is and adapting to it.”  That sounds remarkably close to Ryan Getzlaf’s summer, “It takes a team” mantra.

Probably the guy most responsible for our ducks newly earned self-confidence is coach Bruce Boudreau. Upon arriving in December of 2011 “Gabby” found a room disheartened as though the life had been sucked out of it, as one former Duck described it.

Coach knew the team had the top end talent to compete with anybody. He set out to find out if the team had the necessary complimentary and supporting role players. Immediately the new coach set about to rolling four lines and spread the TOI more evenly throughout the lineup. Nothing changed in that first month as our Ducks continued to lose. Then along about Christmas of 2011, starting with Saku Koivu and Jonas Hiller and spreading one by one throughout the roster our Ducks began to buy into the new program.

The team went on an incredible run that ended with a thud the moment the trade deadline came and went.

During the financial season GM Bob Murray set about to make our Ducks more like the Big Bad Ducks of the Brian Burke era. The incoming included the underrated Daniel Winnick, a rejuvenated Sheldon Souray, match-up specialist Bryan Allen and enforcer Brad Staubitz.

The last main ingredient is the infusion of youth that Bob Murray either drafted or acquired by trade. The maturation of Nick Bonino and Matt Beleskey as reliable and trusted everyday players, is complimented by the breakthrough of Kyle Palmieri. Luca Sbisa seems to have discovered the secret to consistency. The shuttle from Anaheim to Norfolk is paying dividends as prospects such as Emerson Etem, Peter Holland and Pat Maroon have exhibited measurable growth with every trip to and from.

In part two I’ll take you through the change in the system. An excellent primer is to start here, where Scott Cullen uses advance stats to prove that center lane drives, or carrying the puck over the blue line results in measurably more shots and scoring chances than the dump, chase and cycle attack.

 

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Comments
  1. bbdux93 says:

    The change in attitude by the coaching staff is probably why this team always seems to think they can win. As Luca Sbisa said in a recent interview (I will not try to quote exactly) Bruce is a funny guy in there – referring to the locker room. I can’t imagine anyone would have said that about Randy Carlyle.
    The other major factor that bc points out is BB’s spreading the TOI. RC always went back to the top line and wore them out. From my prespective that showed other teams he had no faith in the depth of the team and all they needed to do was hammer our top line a little longer. It’s no wonder that come time for the play-offs they were already too tired to really compete.
    For me – as cz has often noted here – we are still missing a “shut down line”. Bob and crew have made some needed improvements this year and I hope they are looking to fix this as well.

  2. czhokej says:

    I think that BB has much deeper understanding of human nature, he is a people person. But he can be tough, and decisive. He has respect and good open communication with players. Now the top line is scoring according to our wishes. I am glad bb that we agree on the need of a shut-down line. It’s so important.

  3. czhokej says:

    Good analysis bc! Couldn’t agree more.

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