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Why the Ducks will win the Stanley Cup

by Brian Hunter

When the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, among their leading playoff scorers were a pair of second-year forwards named Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who were just starting to come into their own.

Six years later, Getzlaf and Perry comprise two-thirds of a dynamic top line that can push a championship contender over the top when it operates at peak efficiency. Bobby Ryan suffered through a major goal slump during the second half of the regular season, but if he finds his touch, the Ducks' No. 1 unit can score with the best of them.

Make no mistake, though, the Ducks are far from a one-line team. Andrew Cogliano, Teemu Selanne and Kyle Palmieri all cracked double-digits in goals and, along with Saku Koivu, they all recorded at least 20 points. Daniel Winnik was a welcome addition who showed the ability to chip in offensively, and Radek Dvorak provided a shot in the arm after his late-season arrival.

Francois Beauchemin's name might not be the first to enter the mind when considering shut-down defensemen who can withstand the rigors of multiple playoff rounds, but he's quietly put together an outstanding season. Sheldon Souray is another veteran who brings a unique skill set on the blue line with his cannon shot from the point.

When it comes to experience and leadership, there's no shortage on Anaheim's roster. Selanne and Beauchemin also played on the 2007 Cup team. Dvorak has skated in 1,200 regular-season games and to the Final in 1996 with the Florida Panthers and 10 years later with the Edmonton Oilers. Koivu has skated in over 1,000 regular-season games and another 60 in the playoffs.

Regardless which direction Bruce Boudreau goes in net, the Ducks should be in good hands. Jonas Hiller led them to Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals in his last postseason foray in 2009, and Viktor Fasth won his first eight NHL decisions to help spark Anaheim to 22 victories in its first 29 games this season.

No, the Ducks didn't maintain their torrid start as well as the Western Conference's top seed, the Chicago Blackhawks. Anaheim did, however, win all three matchups against the Presidents' Trophy winner this season.

Boudreau has been to the playoffs enough with the Washington Capitals to know it's a marathon and not a sprint. The Ducks don't need to sweep every series, they just have to weather the highs and lows while making sure there's enough left in the tank to be the last team standing at the end of June.

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