Ducks Looking Like Cup Contenders

1/13/14 in NHL   |   patrickhoffman3530   |   122 respect

January 12, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) celebrates the 1-0 victory with goalie Jonas Hiller (1) against the Detroit Red Wings following the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsWhen it comes to the NHL's best teams, most hockey fans and pundits alike will talk about the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, and San Jose Sharks.

While the above-mentioned teams are all worthy of being in the discussion, one team that continues to fly under the radar is the Anaheim Ducks. Don't look now but as of this writing, the Ducks are not only first in the mighty Western Conference, but are first in the entire league.

That's right, folks. As of this writing, the Ducks are the best team in the NHL with 73 points and have shown no signs of slowing down as they have won 16 of their last 17 games. With the way the team is playing right now, the Ducks should definitely be considered contenders for Lord's Stanley Cup for several reasons.

For starters, the Ducks have a well-balanced attack up front. For the Ducks, the offense starts with the play of both team captain Ryan Getzlaf and sniper Cory Perry.

Going into tonight's tilt with the Detroit Red Wings, Getzlaf leads the team with 53 points (23 goals and 30 assists). Getzlaf, 28, is just two goals off his career high of 25 and has shown his team and the rest of the league that he is perhaps the best power forward in the game today.

Getzlaf's partner in crime, Perry, is also having himself quite a season. Perry, 28, is second in the league with 25 goals and also has 24 assists for 49 points (sixth in the league) and whenever the Ducks need a big goal, Perry is usually their to answer as he leads the team with eight game-winning goals.

To go along with the offensive prowess of Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks turn to players such as Nick Bonino (13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points), Andrew Cogliano (14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points), and Dustin Penner (11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points. In all, the Ducks'offense is second in the league in total number of goals scored (166) and third in the league in averaging just over three goals per game.

Another big reason why the Ducks are the best team in the NHL right now is because of the play of their starting netminder, Jonas Hiller. In 31 games this season, Hiller is 22-4-4 with a 2.42 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and two shutouts.

Last season was an interesting one for Hiller because the team saw the emergence of then rookie netminder Viktor Fasth and Hiller saw more time than usual on the team's bench. This season has been a much different story for Hiller as he has regained the net to go along with the confidence of the coaching staff and the team in front of him.

Ducks' head coach Bruce Boudreau also deserves some credit for this team's success. Since joining the Ducks, Boudreau has helped make the Ducks one of the most feared offenses in the entire league and has brought a consistent winning culture to the franchise.

While there is a good amount of hockey left to be played this season, it is safe to say that right now, the Ducks are the team to beat in the NHL.
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1/13/14   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

As the playoffs have proven time and time again, performance in the regular season means little when it comes to the post season.