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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Anaheim Ducks

How they did last season: 46-25-11 (103 points), 1st in the Pacific. Lost in seven games to the Nashville Predators in the first round.

Notable acquisitions: Jonathan Bernier, Randy Carlyle

Notable departures: Jamie McGinn, David Perron, Chris Stewart, Frederik Andersen, Bruce Boudreau

When they will play the Caps: Feb. 11 in Washington, March 12 in Anaheim

RELATED: DO THE CAPS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN WITHOUT ORLOV?

Analysis: In the midst of a horrendous slump, Bruce Boudreau changed tactics midseason to a more defensive style that saw his team surge up the standings and win the division. The change ultimately did not work in the playoffs, however, and Boudreau saw his team ousted early in the postseason. Pop quiz, was this the 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks or the 2010-11 Washington Capitals?

Unfortunately for one of the NHL's most likeable coaches, his time in Anaheim played out in much the same way as it did in Washington and his lack of playoff success ultimately cost him his job. Now the Ducks will turn to the coach who led this team to their only Stanley Cup victory in franchise history, Randy Carlyle.

Besides declaring John Gibson the franchise goalie by trading away Frederik Andersen, the Ducks did little to bolster their roster this summer. Instead, general manager Bob Murray is relying almost solely on Carlyle's hire to bring this team back to championship contention.

The good news is that Carlyle will not be starting from scratch. Anaheim still boasts stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Ducks also finished last season with the fewest goals allowed in the NHL and both the top power play and penalty kill.

Carlyle, however, is a coach that comes with question marks regarding his style of coaching.

While in Toronto it became painfully obvious that the modern NHL had passed Carlyle by. He was only able to lead the Maple Leafs to the postseason once in his tenure there and it happened in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Carlyle may have been able to win a Stanley Cup in Anaheim with Getzlaf and Perry in 2007, but he also had two Hall of Fame defensemen in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. For Murray to hope Anaheim can have the same success with the team's former coach seems shortsighted, especially when it's unclear just what kind of a coach Carlyle will be.

Has he changed from Toronto? How? What will he do differently in Anaheim?

The Ducks were an offensive-minded team that changed to a defensive one midseason and has now changed its coach. Anaheim is a team in need of an identity and they brought in a coach whose own identity now seems unclear. This does not sound like a recipe for success.

Season prediction: It seems far too simplistic to believe that because Carlyle was able to win a Stanley Cup with Getzlaf and Perry in 2007, he can do it again now. Those were different teams and Carlyle is a different coach. When comparing Carlyle to Boudreau, yes only one of those coaches has a Stanley Cup to his record, but which coach has enjoyed more success in the NHL since 2007?

Anaheim has decided to rely on 31-year-olds Getzlaf and Perry, a 23-year-old Gibson in net and Carlyle behind the bench. They made no upgrades to the roster and arguably downgraded at coach and somehow this team is supposed to be better? I don't buy it.

Anaheim's run atop the division will end this season. If the Ducks makes the playoffs, and that's a major if at this point, it will be as a wild card team. Even then, Carlyle will struggle to rekindle the magic of the 2007 postseason and Anaheim will be left to wonder whether their championship window has already closed.

MORE HOCKEY: WHERE DOES STANISLAV GALIEV FIT IN?

See other team previews:

Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers 
Montreal Canadiens (coming Aug. 19)
Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)

Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”