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Top 5: Reasons The Anaheim Ducks Won't Make The Playoffs

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The Anaheim Ducks are not good. Here are their 5 biggest concerns going into the 2010 season.

(Up front I should tell you that I hate the Ducks more than Jamie McCourt hates fine print and would gladly dance on the grave of Wild Wing.  This may color my perception of their playoff chances.   It's probably better to read these as legitimate concerns, not declarative statements. With that said...)

1. Their Defense Sucks

Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger are long gone and in their stead are Lubomir Visnovsky and Andy Sutton. It's like the TV version of a popular movie; instead of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, it's Martin Henderson and Jordana Brewster. Visnovksy is the #1 defenseman on the Ducks, a role he has played on lottery teams in Los Angeles and Edmonton. Lubo is a good defenseman and he's also adorable but he's not really capable of playing the tough minutes you'd hope from a #1. Sutton can play those minutes if you're happy with a few holding, hooking and elbowing penalties along the way, but he's more of a penalty kill specialist than, you know, good. The Ducks' best all-around defenseman is probably Toni Lydman. He's currently out with a case of double vision. (He's also hot-blooded, but in spite of that he feels cold as ice. His condition is urgent.)

The Ducks have some young defensemen that could surprise this season (Luca Sbisa, Cam Fowler) but their roster is mostly filled with guys that are #4 defenseman material. The Ducks allowed 33.4 shots per game last season, and that was with Scott Niedermayer; I expect that number to go up this season.

2. Their Coach Doesn't Fit Their Personnel

Randy Carlyle is a very good coach. The former Norris Trophy winner was the perfect man to utilize Niedermayer and Pronger effectively while also crafting his forwards into a traditional unit that had two scoring units, a shutdown line, and a 4th line that could beat the hell out of the opposition. But now the Ducks are more of a transitional team without many defensive forwards and Carlyle seems lost.

Last year, Carlyle tried to craft a shutdown unit out with Kyle Chipchura and Todd Marchant as the centerpieces. It did not go well. Saku Koivu is Anaheim's best defensive center, but he's also the only center besides Ryan Getzlaf with a modicum of offensive talent. The Ducks are experimenting with Bobby Ryan as a center in a seemingly desperate attempt to recreate what they had in 2007, while shifting Koivu to the third line. Carlyle is trying to ram a square peg into a round hole and I don't think it's going to work. Eventually, I think Carlyle is going to be shown the door not because he can't coach, but because he's not the right coach for this team.

3. Getzlaf & Perry R Dum

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are the Ducks' two best players. They  are both very talented, possess the best forecheck in the NHL, and did well matched up against other team's best players last year. The problem, of course, is that they're kind of stupid. The two led the Ducks in minor penalties last season, many of them in the offensive zone. They both still play like they're the 4th line grinders they entered the league as, not top line players that need to be on the ice for their team to win.

Perry, at least, draws almost as many penalties as he takes because he's really, really annoying, but Getzlaf takes himself off the ice way too much. Ryan Getzlaf could be one of the best players in the league if he were just smarter on the ice, but at this point I think he is what he is. He's going to make some beautiful passes, he's going to not take the shot when he should, and he's going to take a dumb slashing penalty at the worst possible time.

(You know who took more minor penalties than both Getzlaf and Perry last season? Andy Sutton. The Ducks are going to be in the box a lot.)

4.  Jonas Hiller Is Not Superman

Jonas Hiller is one of the best goaltenders in the league. He's so good he almost makes Anaheim fans forget that Ilya Bryzgalov was given away for free to a divisional opponent. But he's not a god. He can't play every game and the Ducks' backup, Craig McElhenney, is not very good. Hiller is going to be trapped behind a defense that allows way too many backdoor plays and open men in front of the net. He's going to have a .915-plus save percentage and a goals against approaching three. If he gets hurt it's going to get very, very ugly in Anaheim.

5.  Jason Blake, Joffrey Lupul, Troy Bodie, Sheldon Brookbank, Andy Sutton, Brett Festerling, Craig McElhenney

The Ducks are what you'd call a "good bad team." They have one of the top forward cores in the league in Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan, two good young defenders that have top pairing potential, and a fantastic goaltender that is probably the most underrated goalie in the league. Their problem is that everybody else sucks. None of the players above are going to be on the team when the Ducks next make the playoffs; they'll be replaced by younger, better players. The Ducks won't make the playoffs this season and probably the next when Teemu Selanne finally retires, but they'll make the playoffs the season after that. They're in a down cycle but hey, that's salary cap hockey. All we can do is enjoy their misery while it lasts because they're going to be very good again sooner than we'd like.