It feels like the Anaheim Ducks never left the Stanley Cup contender club, but there have been some trying seasons for the once mighty Ducks since their first Stanley Cup title in 2007. However, the past couple of year have included the highlight play of captain Ryan Getzlaf and wingers Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. Coming into this year, some analysts wondered what to make of the future of this franchise, as both Getzlaf and Perry’s contracts were due to expire soon and management’s vision going forward was a little ambiguous. Both players are now resigned to extensions and not – repeat, NOT – traded away. Pairing this offensive core with a solid veteran defenseman like Francois Beauchemin and accomplished rookie goalie Viktor Fasth, and the nucleus of continued success for the Anaheim Ducks is clear.
What’s also clear is the potential of the Anaheim Ducks to pose the biggest challenge to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff’s Western Conference bracket. While the Blackhawks had a remarkable run to start the season, the Ducks had a run of their own in the second half of the season to keep the No. 1 seed in question than many expected. Two late-seaons four-game losing streaks, however, allowed the Blackhawks to pull away and actually gave the division-rival Los Angeles Kings a narrow shot at the Pacific Division title. The Ducks held off that push, though, and will now take aim at a team such as the Minnesota Wild in the first round. Assuming the seeding holds, Anaheim would then look toward a matchup with the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks, a team with whom they split two early season meetings and will meet once more in the regular season.
The most likely matchup for the Ducks are the Minnesota Wild, who Anaheim is undefeated against this season. The other less-likely teams to be paired in the first round of the 2013 NHL PLayoffs all had winning records against the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim is guaranteed home ice advantage at the Honda Center for the first two round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.