Saturday, November 11, 2006

Anaheim's Streak Is Over

The Anahaim Ducks "record breaking" undefeated streak at the beginning of a season is now over. They didn't lose until their 17th game of the season (3-0 to Calgary) - despite the fact that they suffered four losses in their 16 game streak - the losses were not in regulation. In the NHL record book, this streak breaks the record set by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984/84 who began the season with a 12-0-3 record. In those days, there was no shootout. Overtime did exist, although there was no sissy point for losing in overtime. During the Anaheim streak, they lost once in overtime on November 1st to the New York Rangers (making it a 12 game streak by the best approximation of the 1984/85 rules - which is not record breaking at all). Nevertheless, Anaheim finds their name in the record book now.

Is Anaheim the best team in the NHL? I have been skeptical of Buffalo's fast start, but I am more sold that Anaheim might be for real. They do have an extremely talented pair of defenders in Pronger and Niedermayer. They have strong goaltending in both Giguere and Bryzgalov. They have some good offensive players in Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald and they have some more young talent in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf hopefully joining them. If the chips fall right, this could be an elite team. I am uncertain that they have enough offence or enough depth on defence (they are too reliant on three men on defence and this could break down by the stretch or playoffs). They do have a "spare" goaltender that could be traded for reinforcements at one of these positions.

In the era of enforced parity, there are few if any elite teams (there were none last year), but Anaheim might with some luck be one this year. If that happens (thats a big if) could they possibly keep it together for more than one season?

I am not sure Anaheim is an elite team. Remember, at this time last year Ottawa was looking like an elite team.

As for Buffalo, they have at least as good of goaltending and probably better. They have better depth on defense and far better offense and offense depth.

I don't want to downplay Anaheim's early success, and they are a very good team, but they have had a fairly easy schedule as well.

St. Louis twice
Phoenix twice
L.A. twice
NY Islanders
An injury devasted Vancouver team

The only top teams they have played are Dallas, Detroit, and Minnesota (twice) and are 2-0-2 in those games. I don't see Anaheim as being any better than San Jose or Minnesota and maybe not Calgary, for which a slow start is normal, when they get their game back on track.
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