John Ahlers Previews the Ducks Season
John Ahlers enters his sixth season as the play-by-play voice of the Anaheim Ducks. He offers his thoughts on the upcoming Ducks campaign exclusively on AnaheimDucks.com
DUCKS DEALT DIFFICULT HAND
By John Ahlers
Repeating as Stanley Cup Champions has proven to be a difficult task as no team in the NHL has pulled off the feat in the last decade. However, in the salary cap era that emerged from the lockout of 2004-2005, the task of putting back-to-back titles on ice has become more daunting.
The roster changes that
“It’s the hand we’re dealt,” said Carlyle, never one to allow excuses for his team. But who could blame the third-year Anaheim Head Coach if he admitted it wasn’t the “Aces” he had hoped for from the hockey gods when looking at his cards? Due to the Ducks’ participation in the NHL’s season-opening weekend in
Regarding the over 5,000-mile trip to open the season Carlyle was open, yet consistent. “Coaches don’t jump for joy,” he said. “We’re never happy with scheduling. No one is going to say it’s ideal, but I don’t look at it as a disruption, I look at it as a challenge.”
Perhaps he was also referring to the entirety of the trip after the international flavor is through. As the stateside return of the Ducks will stop off at three Eastern Time Zone locations in what just happens to be each club’s home opener. They’ll lay over in
No matter how well the team fares in those first five games though, the bigger question may be who occupies the top six forward positions for Carlyle after those contests. The chemistry of his top two lines became a concern when one third of the top six from the Cup championship did not return for that early training camp. “It’s a huge concern when your group has been together a while,” Carlyle said while preparing his team for the overseas journey. “We know that McDonald and Kunitz and Getzlaf and Perry can play together.”
However, in true head coaching form, Carlyle admitted it’s not his nature to be patient in finding the right chemistry to round out those pairings, nor can he be. “I want it now, as soon as I can get it” he said. “We don’t have very much time to get ready with such a short time frame that we’ve been afforded.”
In trying to find the right mix, Carlyle experimented with breaking up the Getzlaf/Perry duo. Getzlaf found himself with free agent addition Todd Bertuzzi and 2005 first round pick Bobby Ryan. The line combined for three goals in the final pre-season game with Ryan assisting on four. That left McDonald centering Kunitz and Perry on the other top line.
As for acquiring that all-important chemistry with a new linemate, the players seemed pragmatic. “It does take time,” said Getzlaf. “You’ll know if he’ll (a new linemate) fit on the ice,” he added. But Kunitz had a different perspective about adapting to a new member of his line. “I don’t think it ever gets easier,” the former All American at
One thing the season-opening road trip will provide the Ducks is ample time to bond. By the time they return to
However, the defending champions’ target will not have left them at that time. While
But know this about this club and its coach. They are not looking for sympathy. The Ducks wouldn’t have many of these “challenges” were they not the defending Stanley Cup champions. As Burke commented when asked about the season-opening