Bruce Boudreau knows the statistics. And the numbers are pretty clear: good defensive teams win Stanley Cups. Bad, or even mediocre ones, have a much tougher time.
The Ducks coach is, therefore, happy to see his team allowing the fifth-fewest goals per game (1.90) in the NHL.
“Obviously, our defense has gotten better,” said Boudreau, per the LA Times. “If you look at teams that have won the Cup, they’re high in the defensive standings — L.A. was the best defensive team last year, won the Cup. Chicago before that, won it. When Boston won … there’s definitely a trend there.”
In fact, the last Cup-winning team that didn’t rank highly in goals against during the regular season was the 2008-09 Penguins (17th, 2.84).
While the Ducks may not have a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman like Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith or Zdeno Chara, they do have a good mix of young talent and veteran experience on the back end. Plus, they added a former Selke Trophy recipient in Ryan Kesler, and they’ve received excellent goaltending from Frederik Andersen and John Gibson (Tuesday in Chicago, especially).
The Ducks could still be better defensively, as evidenced by the 29.3 shots per game they’re allowing. That ranks them right around the middle of the NHL. Their possession stats are only mediocre as well.
But with all the firepower and finishing ability they boast up front, the Ducks may not have to be the best defensive team. Assuming they keep burying a high percentage of their chances and the goaltending holds up, above average may suffice in order to take a serious run at the Cup.
Anaheim is in St. Louis to play the Blues tonight.
Goals against of past five Stanley Cup champs
2013-14 Kings (1st, 2.05)
2012-13 Blackhawks (1st, 2.02)
2011-12 Kings (2nd, 2.07)
2010-11 Bruins (2nd, 2.30)
2009-10 Blackhawks (6th, 2.48)