As the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, Anaheim is a long shot to win a second Stanley Cup in a three-year span, but not as big of a long shot as it would seem. Save for defending champion Detroit, no other team has more players that have hoisted the Cup as 12 still remain from the 2007 Cup titlist. Experience is a valuable asset to deal with the many tense situations that the postseason brings.
The Ducks need the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan to continue to lead the way. Getzlaf was more of a supporting player in 2007, but the two-time All-Star has elevated his game since and needs to continue to play like the top-10 player he is fast becoming. Ryan, a Calder Trophy finalist, had four goals in a first-round win against San Jose. Anaheim must get more production out of Teemu Selanne and Andrew Ebbett on the second scoring line.
Because of the additions of Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski in separate late-season deals, the Ducks' blue line boasts depth that is the envy of many teams. Francois Beauchemin's return from an ACL injury is also a big boost. And then there are the two stars, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, who led a unit that held the Sharks to just 10 goals in six games. The depth allows Niedermayer and Pronger to play fewer minutes, which will help them in the long run.
If Jonas Hiller continues to deliver in goal, Anaheim will be tough to beat in any series. Hiller was outstanding against San Jose and if he can pass the same test against Detroit in the West semifinals, the Swiss goalie could become the next Cam Ward. Ward backstopped Carolina to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006.
In short, Anaheim is no ordinary No. 8 seed. If the Ducks get enough offense from their forwards and premier goaltending, they had the kind of defense and gritty play that can wear on any team in a long series.