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NHL West Division Preview: The Anaheim Ducks

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The first in a series of seven previews taking an analytical look at how the Avalanche will fair against their West division opponents this season.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021 NHL season fast approaching, it’s time to take a deep look at the newly aligned West division to see how the Colorado Avalanche are set to fare against their opponents this year.

Over the next week, I’ll be going over each team within the division to provide some insight on how the Avs have previously performed against them, in order to provide some context and projections as to how they will do this year.

First up, the Anaheim Ducks.

St Louis Blues v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Anaheim Ducks - 29-33-9 (2019-20) 6th in Central

Team Stats (2019-20)

  • GF: 187 (26th in NHL), GA: 226 (25th in NHL), PP%: 14.67% (30th in NHL), PK%: 77.0% (26th in NHL)

Team Stats vs Avalanche (2019-20)

  • 2-1-0 (.667 P%, 9 GF, 6 GA, 3.00 GF/G, 2.00 GA/G)

Players to Watch

  • Adam Henrique: 71gp 26g 17a 43p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 23gp 9g 5a 14p

Stats vs Avalanche (2019-20): 3gp 1g 0a 1p

  • Rickard Rakell - 65gp 15g 27a 42p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 20gp 4g 11a 15p

Stats vs Avalanche (2019-20): 3gp 1g 2a 3p

  • Jakob Silfverberg - 66gp 21g 18a 39p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 21gp 7g 8a 15p

Stats vs Avalanche (2019-20): 3gp 1g 1a 2p

NHL Goaltender Depth

  • John Gibson - 51gp, 20-26-5, 3.00gaa, .904sv%, 1so

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 17gp, 6-9-2, 3.00gaa, .907sv%, 0so

Stats vs Avalanche (2019-20): 1gp, 0-1-0, 1.02gaa, .966sv%

  • Ryan Miller - 23gp, 9-6-4, 3.10gaa, .907sv%, 0so

Stats vs West Division: 5gp, 4-0-1, 4.33gaa, 1.85gaa, .929sv%, 0so

Stats vs Avalanche: 2gp, 2-0-0, 2.40gaa .931sv%, 0so

Notable Offseason Acquisitions

  • Kevin Shattenkirk (TBL) - 70gp 8g 26a 34p

The Anaheim Ducks had a pretty lackluster performance last season, which in all honesty, should have been expected. With an increasingly strong prospect pool that includes 2020 sixth overall selection Jamie Drysdale as well as 2019 ninth overall pick Trevor Zegras, who are both having great outings at the World Junior Hockey Championships, the inevitable rebuild seems to be in a good spot for the Ducks.

Although, don’t count on that rebuild coming just yet. With a number of acquisitions throughout last season such as Danton Heinen, David Backes and Sonny Milano, the Ducks have put together a competent group of forwards on their top three lines. The Ducks also have a number of young forwards who will be looked to for a big chunk of the offensive production this season such as Troy Terry (23), Sam Steel (22), and Max Jones (22).

While on paper this group has the necessary tools to put together a decent outing on any given night, the best case scenario is likely going to be a fourth place finish due to the competitiveness of their division. With a top-heavy group of teams, I can easily see the fourth place position in the West coming down to the wire, with Anaheim being right in the mix. They have the talent to be able to steal some games from teams like St. Louis and even Colorado, especially with a goaltender like John Gibson between the pipes, and could prove to be one of the sleeper teams in this division.

Prediction: 6th in West Division, Miss Playoffs

Dallas Stars v Colorado Avalanche - Game Seven Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche - 42-20-8 (2019-20) 2nd in Central

Team Stats (2019-20)

  • GF: 237 (4th in NHL), GA: 191 (5th in NHL), PP%: 19.1% (19th in NHL) PK%: 81.4% (13th in NHL)

Team Stats vs Ducks (2019-20)

  • 1-2-1 (.500P%, 6 GF, 9 GA, 2.00 GF/G, 3.00 GA/G)

Players to Watch

  • Nathan MacKinnon - 69gp 35g 58a 93p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 20gp 8g 16a 24p

Stats vs Ducks (2019-20): 3gp 2g 1a 3p

  • Mikko Rantanen - 42gp 19g 22a 41p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 11gp 4g 6a 10p

Stats vs Ducks (2019-20): 1gp 0g 1a 1p

  • Cale Makar - 57gp 12g 38a 50p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 15gp 6g 8a 14p

Stats vs Ducks (2019-20): 2gp 0g 1a 1p

NHL Goaltender Depth

  • Pavel Francouz - 34gp, 21-7-4, 2.21gaa, .923sv%, 1so

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 12gp, 6-5-1, 2.58gaa, .907sv% 1so

Stats vs Ducks (2019-20): 3gp, 1-1-1, 2.61gaa, .902sv% 1so

  • Phillip Grubauer - 36gp 18-12-4 2.63gaa .916sv% 2so

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 9gp 5-3-0 2.22gaa .916sv% 1so

Stats vs Ducks (2019-20): DID NOT PLAY

With high expectations coming into this season, the Avalanche will have to make the most of their eight matchups against the Anaheim Ducks this year. The Ducks ranked among the bottom end in the league in goals for (26th) and goals against (25th) in 2019-20, and with the high octane offense that Colorado can bring on a nightly basis, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t win at least six of their nine games (if not all of them).

One of the biggest reasons why the 2019-20 season series vs the Ducks resulted in multiple losses for the Avalanche was the absence of starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer for the early portion of the season. With arguably the best team in the league having a fully healthy roster, and with the best offseason acquisitions in the NHL, there are no excuses for the Avs coming against these lower-end teams.

Up Next: The Arizona Coyotes