In fact, after they won 22 of their first 29 games (and picked up a consolation point in four of the seven losses), there seemed to be little doubt about a Pacific Division title and top-two seed in the Western Conference for the Ducks.
However, Anaheim endured its share of struggles down the stretch before holding off the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks to claim the second division crown in franchise history. The first one was won in 2006-07, a season that ended with Anaheim claiming its only Stanley Cup championship.
The Ducks have some questions they must answer now in their pursuit of a second title. Here are five pressing ones:
Bobby Ryan, one of the NHL's prototypical power forwards, eclipsed the 30-goal mark in each of his first four full seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, who selected him with the second pick in the 2005 NHL Draft.
It would have required a herculean effort for Ryan, 26, to get there again with the 2012-13 regular season limited to 48 games, but the right wing and frequent linemate of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry slumped to the point where his output wouldn't even project to 20 goals during an 82-game schedule.
With the Ducks set to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a one-year absence, finding a way to rev Ryan's engines to previous levels would go a long way in helping the franchise win its second championship in seven seasons.
[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.
— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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