by PuckStopsHere on 07/22/11 at 03:52 PM ET
When I listed the team Corsi ratings for 2010/11, the Anaheim Ducks come in last in the league. They have a -779 team rating. This is more than 140 points worse than any other team in the league. How is that possible for a playoff team? How is that possible for a team that finished in fourth seed in the West Conference?
They did have a poor +/- for a team that finished that well of only +4, but that is a positive ranking which is not in line with the worst negative Corsi in the league. They had some strong front line performances. Corey Perry was named MVP. Lubomir Visnovsky finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting and should have done even better. Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Toni Lydman all put in some solid seasons. The problem was that nobody else did. The remaining depth wasn’t even average. It was bad.
Cam Fowler was an 18 year old rookie who isn’t defensively strong enough for the NHL. His opponents had little trouble exploiting him. Anaheim used him for over 22 minutes a game. Luca Sbisa is a young defenceman who did no better defensively and didn’t provide much offence. He played almost 17 minutes per game. Andreas Lilja is a veteran player who played over 17 minutes a game where he was pretty ineffective. Anaheim was exploited significantly when any of these three played and they all played significant roles with the team. Among the forwards Brandon McMillan was also a heavily exploited player. He has shown little to convince us that he is an NHL calibre player. Todd Marchant and Saku Koivu are an aging pair of forwards that Anaheim tried to use in shutdown roles. Both showed us that their best days are gone. Marchant has not retired and there is a good chance Koivu joins him next year when his contract expires. These are six of the worst 20 Corsi players last year. In fact it is five of the worst eight.
Anaheim is an example of a team that could significantly be improved merely by adding “replacement level players”. A good portion of their depth played below that level. It is possible that young players like Fowler, Sbisa and McMillan will do better in the future as they should be improving with NHL experience. It is hoped that some new depth will arrive in the off-season, although Anaheim largely avoided the free agent market this summer. The biggest off-season addition is Andrew Cogliano who was acquired in trade from Edmonton. Francois Beauchemin was acquired late in the season from Toronto. That is likely not enough to significantly improve the Duck’s depth.
Anaheim managed to do well despite these problems in puck possession in part due to strong goaltending. Jonas Hiller was a Vezina Trophy candidate until he was felled by vertigo problems. Hiller only played three games after February began and his numbers dropped in his last several starts. In his absence, Ray Emery can in to play 10 games with a .926 saves percentage. Anaheim had strong goaltending. Their goaltending went a long way toward their success. Without strong goaltending, Anaheim is in trouble in 2011/12. Will Hiller recover from his vertigo issues? It appears Emery will not be back as he remains an unrestricted free agent.
Anaheim did well on special teams. They had the third best power play in the league. Their front-line talent was helpful here. This helps them to do well despite struggling in puck possession at even strength.
The Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs in 2009/10. They had been consistently on their way down since their 2007 Stanley Cup. Last year was an aberration. They overachieved and had a strong year. It is reasonable to think that some of their stars won’t be able to repeat their 2010/11 season. Does anyone seriously think Corey Perry will repeat as MVP or top goal scorer? Lubomir Visnovsky had a Norris Trophy candidate season at age 34. He wasn’t taken seriously as a Norris candidate by some because of his lack of a track record. This suggests his season is unrepeatable. Anaheim is likely to not have as good a season from either of these players.
Anaheim is a team who overachieved in 2010/11 and their Corsi shows it. They are the best example of the Colorado Avalanche who overachieved their Corsi rating in 2009/10 and then missed the playoffs in 2010/11. The Ducks may not crash as badly as Colorado did, but Anaheim is a strong candidate to not do as well in the upcoming season as they did last season. They are a good bet to drop in the standings next year and their Corsi is strong evidence for it.
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