By AJ Manderichio
With preseason underway and the 2014-15 regular season on the horizon, AnaheimDucks.com is previewing each player on the roster, highlighting last season’s accomplishments and providing insight into what you can expect this season. Our preview continues with Francois Beauchemin.
The perpetually steady and solid Francois Beauchemin finished the 2013-14 season as one of the top performing defenseman on the Ducks’ blue line, but this season may be even better than the last.
“I can finally say, for the first time in five years, I came into camp pain-free and without any offseason surgeries,” he said earlier in camp. “Mentally and physically, I feel really good and I’m excited about this year.”
Playing just four months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, Beauchemin collected 17 points (4g/13a) with a career-high plus-26 rating in 70 games last season. He also finished tied for fifth among NHL defenseman in plus/minus and 11th in blocked shots (171). He led the Ducks in blocks and ranked second in average time on ice, clocking in at 23:05 per game.
He also surpassed Chris Pronger for third on the Ducks’ all-time points list for defensemen.
Beauchemin continued his strong play in the postseason, collecting four assists in 13 games. He moved past Rob Niedermayer for seventh on the Ducks’ all-time playoff scoring list.
More impressive than his numbers may be the connection he formed with rookie Hampus Lindholm. The pairing became one of the most consistent for Bruce Boudreau last season, and Lindholm recorded 30 points, finishing behind only Cam Fowler in points and assists (24). His six goals were tied for the league among team defenseman, and his plus-29 rating set a club record for the best plus/minus rating of any rookie defenseman.
A healthier Beauchemin will further cement his place among the team’s leaders on the back end. Included in those 23-plus minutes he averaged on the ice last season, Beauchemin remains one of the team’s leading penalty killers. Last season, he led all Ducks skaters with an average of 3:11 shorthanded minutes per game. He also contributes on the power play and will, of course, play the hard minutes night in and night out.
The Ducks earned the “Comeback Kids” moniker for their ability to win after trailing, doing so 28 times between the regular season and playoffs. Beauchemin helped add to that number, capping off a furious third-period comeback against the Edmonton Oilers on April 2. The Ducks, who trailed by two goals earlier in the period, pulled even and looked for the win as time ticked away late in the period.
That’s when Beauchemin struck.
Corey Perry carried the puck over the Edmonton blue line and along the far wall, spotting a trailing Beauchemin above the left circle. His drop pass perfectly set up the Ducks’ defenseman for a big one-timer, one Viktor Fasth couldn’t handle. The shot hit his pads, caroming up and over and into the back of the net for the game-winning tally.
It was Beauchemin’s 10th career game-winning goal.
BY THE NUMBERS
11: Beauchemin recorded a team-high 11 blocked shots on January 11 against Phoenix. He led the team in blocked shots (171) last season.
23:05: His average time on ice, second to only Fowler. He led the Ducks in shorthanded time on ice last season.
609: Career regular season games Beauchemin has played in the NHL. Of that number, over half (491) have come with the Anaheim Ducks. He also has 81 career postseason games, all with the Ducks.