It’s Anaheim Ducks Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Anaheim Ducks.

For more entries in this series, click here.

The 2013-14 season for the Anaheim Ducks may have struck fans as being eerily similar to the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

The Ducks finished on top of the Pacific Division and this time around they had the best record in the Western Conference to go with it. Instead of being upended in the first round, like they did in 2013 to the Detroit Red Wings, they were bounced in the second round at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.

Having a tremendous regular season only to come up short in the postseason has become an all too familiar trait for Bruce Boudreau coached teams, but you could give a pass on last season as the Kings were just beastly once they got going. That won’t do much to calm down fans who had to watch their hated rivals celebrate their second Stanley Cup in three years.

On the upside, the Ducks got another incredible season from Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Getzlaf led the team in scoring with 87 points while Perry was tops in goals with 43. Getzlaf’s effort was good enough to put him second behind Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting. Perry joining him on the top line gave Anaheim one of the most potent first lines in the league.

Anaheim got career-years from Nick Bonino and Mathieu Perreault and an offensive resurrection from Andrew Cogliano. Teemu Selanne had an up-and-down final year in the NHL scoring nine goals with 27 points in the regular season and feuding with Boudreau to shining again in the playoffs with two goals and six points before riding off into the sunset… We think.

The Ducks also saw their defense step up big offensively led by Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen. Fortunately for them, they’re all young.

Youth was key late in the season as well as forwards Kyle Palmieri, Devante Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem, and Jakob Silfverberg all played key roles. They also saw Patrick Maroon emerge as a power forward as well.

In goal, things were a bit of an adventure as they went from Jonas Hiller to Frederik Andersen to John Gibson in the postseason. Gibson’s performances in the playoffs and Andersen’s during the season essentially made Hiller expendable. The Ducks even dealt Viktor Fasth to Edmonton at the trade deadline to further clear up their glut of goaltending.

Offseason recap

Adding Ryan Kesler in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks was an inspired move to help them keep up with the Kings and Sharks up the middle. Losing Nick Bonino to do it was the proper price as who knows if he’ll have another season as good as his 2013-14 season again. Of course, who knows if Kesler will return to his Selke Trophy-winning form. He has to stay healthy.

We’re pretty sure Selanne is going to retire. At the very least they’re going to hang his number in the rafters in January. At worst, he’s going to play one more year in Finland. Either way, he’s out of the equation and they’ve moved on by signing Dany Heatley to a one-year deal. If he can produce more than Selanne’s 29 points from last season, it’s a win.

They locked up Vatanen to a two-year deal and also added Clayton Stoner from the Minnesota Wild to a bizarrely lucrative four-year deal. The Ducks did lose Jonas Hiller to the Calgary Flames and forward Daniel Winnik to the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agnecy but with their young players all graduating, they’re not crushing departures.

If things go awry this season, at the very least all Ducks goalies have pretty sweet masks to look at.

Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.

Video: Ducks’ 3-3 goal survives goalie interference review

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When the Nashville Predators went up 3-1 in the third period, it seemed like they might finally put the Anaheim Ducks away in Game 6. The Ducks quickly responded with “Not yet.”

Two minutes after that 3-1 goal, Chris Wagner kept Anaheim’s hopes alive with a surprising tally. Corey Perry then bumped Pekka Rinne, but he was able to reset before Cam Fowler scored the 3-3 goal 8:52 into the final frame (of regulation).

In less than six minutes of game time, the tone of the contest changed rapidly. Now we’ll see if either team can get the next tally in the remaining minutes of the third or if the Stanley Cup Playoffs will see yet another overtime contest.

Here’s the Wagner goal:

You can see the 3-3 goal in the video above. Hold onto your seats.

Update: Moments after this was published, Colton Sissons‘ hat-trick goal made it 4-3. Could there be even more drama? We’ll see …

Game 6 is airing on NBCSN. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Coyotes’ Dylan Strome breaks Memorial Cup record with 7 points in game

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Dylan Strome’s journey to becoming a full-timer at the NHL level might be a little bumpy, but he continues to distinguish himself at other levels.

In the case of Monday, it was setting a new Memorial Cup record. With four goals and three assists, Strome’s seven-point game set a new record as he helped the Eerie Otters pummel the Saint John Sea Dogs 12-5.

They’ll face the Windsor Spitfires on Wednesday to determine which team goes to the tournament’s final round.

The performance wasn’t lost on his brother Ryan Strome.

Ducks dominate, but Predators enter third up 2-1

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So far, it seems like Jonathan Bernier playing instead of John Gibson for the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 has indeed been a pretty big deal.

Bernier allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced against to start Game 6, putting the Ducks in an early hole. The Ducks have been absolutely dominating the contest since then, but only Ondrej Kase could get a puck beyond Pekka Rinne through the first 40 minutes.

Seriously, the play’s been lopsided. Nashville managed a few shots after this tweet, yet it still tells much of the story.