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Ducks Go 1-1 in Scandinavia

        The Anaheim Ducks started the season across the pond in Europe and came home with a 1-1 record. Even though the first game in Finland was a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, they managed to get two points by defeating the New York Rangers in a Shootout in Stockholm. Now that the season is officially underway, we have a few answers to those questions posed in a previous post.

        The first thing that many people were scrutinizing was the performance of Jonas Hiller.  Even seeing him in the crease at all should be cause for relief, but the next question is if he can get back to his previous level.  After preseason and two regular season games, it looks like he is doing just fine.  Although his first two games has yielded a 2.40 GAA and a .875 save percentage, he put up some solid performances in the preseason and had some descent saves against the Sabres and Rangers.  Plus, a key part of that sentence is the first two games.  There are eighty more, and so it is still a bit premature to be determining whether Hiller will achieve top form once more.

        Last season, the Ducks had a bottom six that left a bit to be desired.  This season?  Well, if the first two games are anything to go by, their depth scoring will contribute a bit more this season.  The third line of Cogliano, Gordon, and Smith-Pelley particularly caught my eye.  The Ducks managed to split the two games in Europe without a point from their top six.  This, of course, raises a different issue: the Ducks are going to need their big line to be big.  While they got some good chances, they are going to have to find a way to pot some of those pucks.

        The next pleasant discovery in this young season has been the performance of the kids.  Cam Fowler had an incredible preseason and Luca Sbisa's performance has been decent.  A few more additions to the kids were made, as well; Devante Smith-Pelley made it out of camp and has lasted with the big boys, at least for now.  The Ducks have up to nine games to decide whether or not to send him back to juniors.  Maxime Macenauer has also lasted and has impressed, particularly in the faceoff circle.

        Lastly, the defense.  It is worth noting that two Ducks defensemen have yet to play, Toni Lydman and Kurtis Foster.  Both of them have a chance of getting into the lineup this weekend, but they have not had much game action this season and will probably have a bit of rust to shake off.  Smaby is also out of commission right now with a hand injury.  Of the players that have seen game time, Fowler and Beauchemin have been paired together, and so far seem to compliment each other.  It will be interesting to see the configurations once all the defensemen are healthy.

        Unlike the last time the Ducks played in Europe, they are enjoying a week off between arriving back home and having to play another game.  The home opener is on Friday, when they will take on the Sharks.  They then have another home game against the Blues on Sunday, then head up to San Jose to face the Sharks again on Monday.  They've got a busy weekend ahead, so buckle up as the rest of the season continues to unfold.

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