Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Anaheim Ducks edition

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Ryan Getzlaf
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Ryan Getzlaf /

Things always get interesting when the Vancouver Canucks visit California, and the Anaheim Ducks are a big part of the reason why.

The Vancouver Canucks spend a big chunk of their season playing against divisional rivals. Whether it be against the teams in Alberta or the teams in California, a rivalry matchup is always entertaining to watch.

If the Alberta rivalry is built on the speed and skill of the likes of Connor McDavid, Johney Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, the California rivalry is built on the size and power of the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Drew Doughty and Brent Burns. The California road swing is always a tough trial for even the best teams in the NHL.

As the Pacific Division winners last year, the Anaheim Ducks challenged the Nashville Predators for the ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals, coming up short in six games.

The Ducks are one of the powerhouse teams of the West. Though their golden days with the Getzlaf-Perry duo may be coming to a slow end, Anaheim’s young blueline is very promising.

In fact, the Ducks were the league’s best defence last year in terms of goals-against average (2.37).

Without further ado, here’s a look at what’s new for the Anaheim Ducks:

Offseason Changes

The Ducks weren’t too busy over the offseason but lost more than they gained as a result of the Vegas Expansion Draft. The loss of Shea Theodore is big but Anaheim has many other promising blueliners. The goaltender situation remains dynamic as Bernier leaves to make room for Miller and Berra.

Anaheim Ducks (46-23-13, Conference Finals)

2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (2-4) Anaheim, Oct. 23 @Anaheim
  • (2-1) Anaheim, Dec. 1 @Vancouver
  • (2-3) Vancouver, Dec. 23 @Vancouver
  • (2-1) Vancouver, Mar. 5 @Anaheim
  • (1-4) Anaheim, Mar. 28 @Vancouver

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Nov. 9 @Anaheim
  • Jan. 2 @Vancouver
  • Mar. 14 @Anaheim
  • Mar. 27 @Vancouver

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

  1. Kevin Bieksa & Ryan Kesler

Much time may have passed since the trades that sent these two to the division rivals but it still is a big mix of emotions seeing two suit up against the Canucks. Kesler may now be the player most hated by Canucks fans today while Bieksa may arguably be the most beloved ex-Canuck currently.

2. Ryan Miller in SoCal

The latest number one netminder to leave Vancouver is Ryan Miller, who heads down south to Anaheim on a cost-friendly deal to be near the Hollywood area.

More from The Canuck Way

If the rest of the NHL sees the Canucks the same way it did last year, Vancouver will be playing against many backup netminders and do not be surprised if Anaheim gives Miller a start or two against his former team while resting John Gibson.

Just out of curiosity: what are the chances Miller outplays Gibson for the starting job come playoff time for the Ducks?

3. “The Big Bad Ducks”

The Ducks have always frustrated the Canucks with their size and power, especially on the forechecking side of things.

Vancouver missed Erik Gudbranson and Derek Dorsett‘s sandpaper mentality for much of last season, but to shut down the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf the Canucks will need more on the physical side of things.

Watch for Michael Del Zotto, Patrick Wiercioch, and returning Erik Gudbranson to try to add physicality from the blueline. Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce should add some muscle up front, potentially even Jake Virtanen should he make the team.

Next: TBT: Game 7 loss to Boston ends an era

The Canucks held their own against the Ducks last season, pulling away with low-scoring wins behind strong efforts from their netminders.

With Miller’s veteran savviness now in Anaheim black and orange, the Canucks will need to make things happen physically and make Anaheim’s netminders’ nights difficult by filling up the slot with bodies.