After five games, the Anaheim Ducks are 1-3-1—not what you'd expect from the defending champs.
Yes, the team failed to retain Dustin Penner, and Teemu Selanne and Scott Neidermayer are both contemplating retirement, but that doesn't excuse the slow start.
The Ducks do have a history of stumbling out of the gates, but are they set to become the latest "Cup Hangover" victim, à la the Carolina Hurricanes?
The Ducks opened the season with a 4-1 loss to the Kings in London, then returned the favor with a 4-1 win before returning to the States. What's followed has been simply disappointing.
An OT loss to Detroit preceded a shutout at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets—which seemed to ring in open season on the Ducks.
A subsequent 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't help. That game changed dramatically in the last five minutes, when a sloppy contest became a flowing Penguins gong show. In the end, neither team looked anywhere near solid.
Wednesday, the Ducks have their home opener against the Bruins. What is supposed to be a celebration may turn into a shock—if the Ducks lose to Boston, it'll be a clear sign they're headed down Hurricane Lane.
Things don't get any easier after that. The Ducks play host to the Wild, Red Wings, and Predators before taking on the Stars. A 1-8-1 record isn't entirely out of the question, which would be a nightmare for the defending champs.
The Hurricanes started the 2006-2007 season 1-3-1. They finished October at 5-5-2. The rest is history.
Like the Ducks, the Canes lost a host of key players after winning the title: Doug Weight to St. Louis, Martin Gerber to Ottawa, Matt Cullen and Aaron Ward to the Rangers, and Mark Recchi to Pittsburgh.
For the Canes, the additions of Brad Isbister and Jesse Boulerice weren't enough to compensate for the losses. The additions of Todd Bertuzzi and Shane Hnidy, among others, should be enough for the Ducks, but only time will tell.
In my preseason predictions, I had the Ducks falling as far as fifth in the West. As it stands, that might be optimistic.
The only good news for Anaheim? Carolina is off to a solid start this year. If '07-'08 brings hard times to the Ducks, at least '08-'09 may promise better things.
In the next blog or podcast, I will talk about Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks' star rookie. All I have to say at this point: Good Stuff.