Ducks VS. Flames: Offence VS. Defence
After reading several of the comments from the Western Conference playoff article, there seems to be an abundance of opinions regarding the outcome of the Flames/Ducks series. Many people believe that the Ducks’ offence will overpower the Flames, while other believe that the Flames’ defence will shut down the Ducks as they have with many teams this season. I will admit to being biast, however I fully believe that defence wins championships, and this series is no exception.
As far as Anaheim goes, they have a steller goaltender who has proven to be rock solid in the playoffs. Giguere took the Ducks to the Finals a few years back, and I see no reason for him not to be as strong in net as he was back then. As for the Ducks’ defence, there is no question that their number one guy is Scott Niedermayer. He has proven himself in the playoffs with the Devils winning three Stanley Cups, and being awarded the Norris trophy in 2004. However, Anaheim’s defence begins and ends with Scott Niedermayer.
Compare Anaheim’s defence to the Calgary Flames’, and you have a miss-match as drastic as the 2003 Devils to the 2005 Leafs. Calgary is absoultely dominant on defence, even more so than the 2004 season. Our defencive corps is as follows:
#1 Dion Phaneuf: If it weren’t for Mikka Kiprusoff, this guy would be the Flames’ MVP. He had 20 goals and 29 assists throughout the regular season, all thanks to his canon of a shot. He is a brutal bodychecker, and he’s even being compared to Scott Stevens. He’s a tremendous defenceman on top of that, and he plays classic Flames stay at home defence. And oh ya, he’s a rookie.
#2 Robyn Regehr: You can’t get much more solid than Reghr. He’s an Darryl Sutter player, he comes to play every night and doesn’t give you any room in the defencive zone. On most nights he is perfect defensively, and he is the Flames’ number one guy when it comes to shutting down big name players. All season long he’s been on the backs of the leagues most talented players, and he is one of the main reasons that the Flames finished the season with a 2.35 goals allowed average.
#3 Rhett Warrener: Yet another hard-nosed Flames defenceman, this guy is tough. Throughout the 2004 playoffs he got cut up and injured, yet he still blocked shots, never got caught out of postition, and he was a leader for the entire team.
These three guys alone would be enough reason to give the defencive edge to Calgary, but that’s just the tip of the defensive iceburg. The defence also includes Jordan Leopold, Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Marchment, and Andrew Ferrence. All of the Calgary defenceman have one thing in common, and that is they are all part of Darryl Sutter’s system. The defence works as one system, and every player contribues to shutting down a teams entire offence. Aside from Kiprusoff, this is how the Flames have an incredibly low goals against per game, and have been able to shut down some of the most talented teams in the NHL. And not to mention that once you get through the defence, you have to beat Mikka Kiprusoff. But, it’s your call. If you honestly believe that the Ducks are offensively talented enough to beat the league’s best defence for four games, then the Ducks will win. But good luck to the Ducks in the second round, because they’re going to be too beat up to stand on their skates.