2017 NHL Playoffs: Is this the year Anaheim Ducks run table?
With Carlyle back behind bench, Ducks seem primed for real playoff success
The Anaheim Ducks have routinely underachieved in the playoffs.
Since their Stanley Cup championship in 2007, the Ducks won the Pacific Division four times but were bounced from the postseason in the first round four times.
Moreover, they have lost in even more heartbreaking fashion. The Ducks lost in 7 games to the Detroit Red Wings in 2013, followed by another 7-game series loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, then again in the 2015 conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, and yet again to the Nashville Predators last year.
This year they've won the division for the fifth consecutive season. But does it matter?
For starters the Ducks will play a first-round series against the Calgary Flames, who lack the playoff experience of guys like Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Kevin Bieksa and Patrick Eaves. This Ducks group has depth, and they can count on it to beat down the relatively young Flames.
Carlyle back behind bench
Perhaps most importantly for the Ducks this year is the man behind the bench: Randy Carlyle. In what many saw as a surprising off-season move, Carlyle was brought back for a second stint in Anaheim.
It makes sense: He was the last coach who had real playoff success with the team, guiding them to the conference finals in 2006 followed by the next year's Stanley Cup championship. He is the winningest coach in Anaheim's history.
Carlyle has the Ducks scoring again, and he has them playing well in front of the home crowd at the Honda Center where they boasted a 29-8-4 record this season. Whether or not you believe in home-ice advantage, the Ducks will have it in this first round thanks to their regular season dominance.
Rakell has breakout year
Anaheim also claims a new goal scorer this year in Rickard Rakell. The 23-year-old center has established himself as a bonafide offensive force with 33 goals this season. He's an all-around force for the Ducks, helping them become a steadier lineup. It's nice when your draft picks work out.
Gibson, Bernier both winning in net
Another big plus for the Ducks this season is their goaltending. They will go into the postseason with two goalies, John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier, who have more than 20 wins this season and .924 and .915 save percentages, respectively.
Gibson likely gets the start for Game 1, according to the LA Times.
Here's the full schedule for the opening-round matchup:
Anaheim Ducks (P1) vs. Calgary Flames (WC1)
Thursday, April 13, 10:30pm: Flames @ Ducks | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 15, 10:30pm: Flames @ Ducks | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Monday, April 17, 10pm: Ducks @ Flames | CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, April 19, 10pm: Ducks @ Flames | CBC, TVA Sports, USA
*Friday, April 21, TBD: Flames @ Ducks | TBD
*Sunday, April 23, TBD: Ducks @ Flames | TBD
*Tuesday, April 25, TBD: Flames @ Ducks | TBD
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