Ducks Need to Change Style to Have Future Success

By Patrick Hoffman

There is no doubt that year in and year out, the Anaheim Ducks are one of the most consistent teams in the NHL.

Even with players getting hurt left and right on this roster, this team always finds a way to have a strong regular season and get into the playoffs. For the Ducks, it's the same story every year.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, the story usually ends poorly. That was the case this year when they were swept by the Western Conference and league-leading Nashville Predators.

If you are the Ducks, the team's performance in the playoffs should be a wake up call. For starters, this team needs a whole new style of play.

Every single season, this team plays the same way. They play physical, they do everything they can to grind teams down, and they also do what they need to do slow the pace of the game down.

This style may have worked when they won the Cup in 2007, but that is not going to work with the way the game is played now.

Today's game is extremely fast, the officials crack down on the hooking and slashes, which creates more power plays, and nowadays, the whole dump and chase style simply does not work. This is unfortunately how the Ducks play under head coach Randy Carlyle. 

As such, Carlyle and his club need to respect the fact that every team in this league is a lot quicker on pucks than they were a decade ago. Whenever the Ducks dumped the puck into the opposing zone, especially this season, it usually just resulted in the other team getting it right back and bringing it into the Ducks' zone.

Speaking of being quicker, the Ducks really are not a fast team. Sure, guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, when healthy, can produce and create offense.

With that said, however, these guys really are not the best skaters out there anymore. Their getting older, slower, and are not able to keep up with the game like they used to in the past.

I am not saying that they should trade or get rid of these guys. Rather, I am saying that if the team is looking for speed, those are guys that Carlyle should be having out there for long periods of time.

Instead, Carlyle must find a way for his team not to be static. This team needs to learn how to move their feet, cycle the puck, and be creative in order to elude both opposing defenses and their respective netminder.

This team also needs to figure out a way to not have to rely on their somewhat fragile star netminder, John Gibson, every night. Too often this season, Gibson was the team's best player and while it is great that they have someone like him between the pipes, it could lead to trouble if Gibson ever loses his game or confidence for whatever reason.

Lastly, this team needs to get younger. Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, and Antoine Vermette are aging. It certainly showed this season and that is exactly why Ducks' general manager Bob Murray and his head coach need to figure out a way to infuse more youth into the lineup.

By bringing up younger players, it will add speed, more skill, and will show that the tram is willing to adapt in order to have success in today's NHL. It's a young man's game and the Ducks need to realize this and adjust moving forward.

Don't get me wrong here. The Ducks are a good team and they've won a ton of hockey games over the last few seasons.

That said, to have success moving forward, they need to adjust their style and play the way today's NHL is played and that is with more speed, skill, and younger players.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.