Have the Ducks Supplanted the Blackhawks as ‘Other’ Team to Beat in the West?

November 7th, 2014 by Steve Macfarlane Leave a reply »

Don’t look now, Chicago Blackhawks, there’s another heavyweight looking to take your spot as the "other" team to beat in the Western Conference.

The Anaheim Ducks this week became the first NHL franchise to hit 10 victories on the season, heading into Thursday night’s action as the top team in the league standings—six points ahead of the Blackhawks with one more game played.

Like the Blackhawks, who added Brad Richards via free agency in the offseason, the Ducks made an effort to improve their depth at the center position—a trend made popular by the Los Angeles Kings' blueprint, which has led to two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons.

Bringing in Ryan Kesler through a trade with the Vancouver Canucks in June, the Ducks believed they had the missing piece after losing in seven games to the Kings in the second round of the playoffs last spring.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau was ecstatic upon hearing about the acquisition, gushing to NHL.com:

It gives you strength down the middle. I've never coached a team in the NHL that's had a second-line center that you're going t ...

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