Before I get the ball rolling with my inaugural Wild West column, I would like to send a shout out to all those who took an interest in my Forensics series over the past several months. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. All the comments, even the negative ones, were very much appreciated since my main goal is always to generate some debate and discussion. The Forensics column is in good hands with Mac Vincent taking over and I for one will be looking forward to reading his work.
Hopefully, as I embark on this new journey in my DobberHockey career, I can live up to the lofty standards Ryan Ma has set with the Wild West column. Of course the NHL not going into a lockout would help me greatly in achieving that goal. I can't even remember what I did when the entire season was lost in 2004-05. Perhaps the memory was so painful that my subconscious has completely blocked it out.
Anyway, let's get down to business with a three part series on who should have a bounce back year in 2012-13, starting with the Pacific Division.
The Anaheim Ducks Big Three
Ok so the combination of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan are no LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, but they certainly can strike fear in the heart of opponents. They did little of that though in 2011-12 as all three had off years for their standards. They played 36% of their even strength shifts together and combined for just 174 points last season. Those numbers aren't horrific, but far from what poolies are used to since they combined for 245 points in 2010-11.
The big issue for each of them is that they all had off years. For instance, Getzlaf's assist totals were down because Perry and Ryan's goal totals were down. Or were Perry and Ryan's goal totals down because Getzlaf’s assists totals were down? What came first, the chicken or the egg? The odds of all three of them struggling again this season are slim. They kind of all feed off of each other and if one of them is on again they should all bounce back. Getzlaf may be the most likely of the three to get it turned around quickly as he had a strong finish to last year's campaign recording 11 points in the Ducks final 12 games.
Having a full offseason to get further acclimated to Coach Bruce Boudreau's system, and the return of Teemu Selanne for another year won't hurt matters either.
Goligoski's point totals took a hit last year as he went from 46 in 2010-11 down to 30. Now granted 31 of those 46 points came as a member of Pittsburgh Penguins, but he recorded 15 points in just 23 games with the Stars after being traded. So Dallas would have been a little disappointed with a 30 point campaign.
Where his numbers took the biggest hit were with the man advantage. He had only 9 power play points last year compared to 24 the previous season. Although Goligoski led the Stars in power play ice-time in 2011-12, having Sheldon Souray leave for Anaheim should make him more of the focal point. Not to mention all the additional firepower the Stars have added up front should improve their last place rating.
The Kings blueliner had his lowest point total since his rookie campaign and was a minus-2 in 2011-12. Part of the problem could be attributed to his lengthy holdout in the offseason that forced him to miss nearly all of training camp, and saw him start off slow out of the gates. Doughty did record 168 shots which was a career high, and if he continues on that pace his production will surely follow. He also led defensemen in playoff scoring with 16 points in 20 games, so there is some positive momentum he can use going forward.
Yandle owners saw his point totals go from 59 in 2010-11 down to 43 last season. A 16 point drop off could be related to the fact that Yandle saw his average ice time drop by over two minutes per game in 2011-12. Not to mention that his power play time dropped as well by over 30 seconds per contest causing his production to take a drastic hit in that area also. The emergence of Oliver Ekman-Larsson surely was a factor in the reduced ice time. Adding Zbynek Michalek should give the Coyotes a little more depth on defense and take a bit of the pressure off of Yandle. If nothing else, Yandle has shown his durability as he hasn't missed a game in three years.
Although Clowe had his lowest point total in four years, there were some encouraging signs from his 2011-12 campaign. Most of his major statistical categories other than points and plus/minus remained similar to his career year in 2010-11. The only other area that really suffered was his career low shooting percentage of 9.4%. This tells me he had some hard luck and because his shots and PIM are always solid, if he gets anywhere close to the 55 point mark he will be a valuable asset. And besides, isn't this the Sharks year? Or was that last year? Or the year before that? Honestly, who can keep track.
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