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Why the Ducks will win the Stanley Cup

by David Satriano / NHL.com

Not much went wrong for the Anaheim Ducks this season. They won the Pacific Division for the third consecutive season and finished as the top seed in the Western Conference with 109 points and 51 wins.

Anaheim hasn't advanced to the Western Conference Final since 2007, when they won the Stanley Cup. Last season, the Ducks were the top seed in the West but lost in the second round to the Los Angeles Kings; but this team is much improved and will win the Stanley Cup this time.

Playoff teams need to win close games, and the Ducks have proven they can do that. Anaheim was 33-1-7 in one-goal games this season.

"We certainly want bigger and better things for our group," coach Bruce Boudreau said April 1 after the Ducks defeated the Edmonton Oilers to win the division. "We know it’s not going to be easy, but that's what we're striving for. … I'll be happy, believe me, if we win our last playoff game."

Forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf lead an offense which has nine 10-goal scorers and 10 players with 30 or more points. In addition to Perry and Getzlaf, Matt Beleskey and Ryan Kessler have also scored at least 20 goals.

The Ducks also have two goalies capable of shouldering the playoff load. Frederik Andersen was 35-12-5 with a 2.38 goals-against average. Rookie John Gibson was 13-8-0 with a .914 save percentage. Andersen appeared in 54 games, and Gibson played in 23, but they've split the starts the past 18 games.

Anaheim has eight healthy defenseman, which has led coach Bruce Boudreau to alternating who has been in the lineup. Korbinian Holzer, acquired in a trade with the Maple Leafs in March, is healthy, but hasn't played for the Ducks. Of their other seven defensemen, Clayton Stoner, James Wisniewski, Simon Despres, Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler have each been given a game off. Sami Vatanen and Francois Beauchemin were the two regulars who weren't scratched down the stretch, so the defense will be fresh for the postseason.

The Ducks have home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs. They were 26-12-3 at Honda Center this season.

"Until we reach our goal, I don't think anyone will be satisfied," forward Andrew Cogliano said after the win on April 1.

With balanced scoring, two reliable goalies and a healthy defense, the Anaheim Ducks will reach that goal in June.

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