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St. Louis Blues defensman Barret Jackman and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne.
By all accounts, the Anaheim Ducks shouldn’t be nearly as good as they are. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t be considered elite, though, as their league-leading 27-7-5 record makes a convincing argument to that effect.
However, compared to the fifth-best Blues, they’ve scored less goals and given up more. They gave up a four-time 30-goal scorer in Bobby Ryan in the offseason. And their No. 1 goalie has been outplayed by their backup to a greater degree than Halak has been by Brian Elliott.
The Ducks have made it work, though, making them one of the league’s best feel-good stories of the season and arguable dark-horse favorites despite leading the league in points.
Blues’ Advantage(s): While the Ducks are arguably the only team among the five listed to have a disadvantage in net (Halak actually has more playoff experience than Jonas Hiller), the Blues come out on top to a greater degree in regard to special teams.
The Ducks’ have been simply decent on the penalty kill with an 80.8 percent success rate (84.5 percent for the Blues) and downright mediocre with the man advantage (15 percent compared to 22 percent). All in all, it’s no exaggeration to say the Ducks’ special teams are a relative mess.
Beyond that, while special teams are usually handled by assistants, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Bruce Boudreau is the only head coach here without a Stanley Cup. That’s despite him having been behind the bench of some especially great Washington Capitals teams.
In fact, in his one Stanley Cup-winning season in 1999 with the Dallas Stars, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock won more rounds (four and 14 total) than Boudreau has in six seasons in the NHL (two).
Admittedly, that advantage can become irrelevant real quick were the Ducks to win it all this season. Boudreau, to his credit, has the Ducks on the right track toward that ultimate goal.
Ducks’ Advantage: While one does not want to overstate Teemu Selanne’s worth to the Ducks this season—he does only have four goals—or his impending retirement as a motivating factor, his experience is truly invaluable. In fact, the Ducks as a whole have much more experience than the Blues.
While Boudreau may not have one yet, the Ducks actually have five players with Stanley Cups rings (Francois Beauchemin, Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, Corey Perry and Selanne), all earned during Anaheim’s 2006-07 championship season.
The Blues? They have none. And that goes for the franchise as well. However, that, as argued earlier, can change in a real hurry by the end of this season.