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29 ANAHEIM Mighty Ducks
Mark Beech
October 08, 2001
There was a surprising air of enthusiasm in Anaheim's training camp this fall. Some of it surely had to do with the presence of new coach Bryan Murray, who has made a career of turning losing teams into winning ones. Most of it, however, is predicated on the assumption that things can't get any worse. Last season the far-from-mighty Ducks scored only 188 goals, fourth fewest in the NHL, allowed 245, second most in the Western Conference, and had a record (25-41-11-5) worse than either of the expansion teams. Yet listen to them: "I really feel good about this team," says defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky. "We've improved our defense. We have good goal-tending. I think we will be solid."
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October 08, 2001

29 Anaheim Mighty Ducks

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Insider

CATEGORY

SI RANKING

SKINNY

FORWARDS

30

Not much scoring talent behind Kariya

DEFENSE

28

Need more physical players like Vishnevski

GOALTENDING

27

Giguere is very athletic but unproven

SPECIAL TEAMS

27

Power play will be poor, so PK must improve

MANAGEMENT

27

New coach Murray will push G.M. to make moves

There was a surprising air of enthusiasm in Anaheim's training camp this fall. Some of it surely had to do with the presence of new coach Bryan Murray, who has made a career of turning losing teams into winning ones. Most of it, however, is predicated on the assumption that things can't get any worse. Last season the far-from-mighty Ducks scored only 188 goals, fourth fewest in the NHL, allowed 245, second most in the Western Conference, and had a record (25-41-11-5) worse than either of the expansion teams. Yet listen to them: "I really feel good about this team," says defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky. "We've improved our defense. We have good goal-tending. I think we will be solid."

Perhaps Tverdovsky, who had 14 goals and 39 assists last year, is optimistic because he is one of the few Ducks who isn't coming off a disappointing season. Anaheim tried to shore up its blue line this summer by acquiring 10-year veteran Keith Carney and signing free agent Jason York. In goal behind them, however, are two players yet to prove themselves as consistent NHL starters. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a first-round draft choice in 1995, showed some promise in 2000-01, going 11-17-5 with a .911 save percentage. Steve Shields, a seven-year vet who was part of the trade that sent Teemu Selanne to the Sharks last March, did not play after his arrival because of a left shoulder injury.

Dealing Selanne lopped $5-7 million off Anaheim's payroll but also left the Ducks as thin as tissue paper at forward and almost as delicate. Left wing Paul Kariya is still one of the top talents in the league, but he missed 16 games last season with a broken right foot. His center, Steve Rucchin, sat out the final 50 games with postconcussion syndrome. More production will be needed from left wings Jeff Friesen, who scored just two goals in 16 games after arriving as part of the Selanne trade, and German Titov. Titov, whose year was darkened by the deaths of his father and his brother, had only nine goals and 11 assists after signing a three year, $4-6 million contract. "We're looking forward to seeing the real German Titov," says G.M. Pierre Gauthier.

If the defense and the goaltending are as sturdy as hoped, Anaheim will be in more low-scoring games this year. A significant injury to one of its top forwards, however, would be a setback this team could not withstand.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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