Corey Perry turned out two very different back to back seasons for the Anaheim Ducks from 2010 to 2012. During the 2010-2011 season a storm of second half offense propelled him to 98 points and helped the Ducks to climb to the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The performance ultimately netted him the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.
Fast forward to the end of the 2011-2012 season and you have a very different outcome for Perry. While barely breaking the 60 point mark and being outdone by the 41 year old Teemu Selanne in terms of production, Perry was unable to recreate the magic of a season prior and carry his team to another late playoff clinching surge. The Ducks missed the playoffs last year, and what’s more, their offensive output across the board took a nose dive. Ryan Getzlaf and Lubomir Visnovsky who had both been instrumental in Perry’s and the Ducks success a year prior, saw a significant drop in production. Anaheim just wasn’t the same team offensively and it showed most evidently in Perry’s numbers.
Fast forward to eve of the 2012-2013 season: With a full offseason under Bruce Boudreau, will Perry be able to turn the corner and get back to the 90 plus point season we know he is capable of? If the team around him is able to reignite their offensive prowess Perry might have a chance to get back to his old self. The play of Bobby Ryan will no doubt have an effect on how Perry is able to bounce back when the Ducks hit the ice again.
Ryan has been the subject of repeated trade rumors since the middle of last season, and has been pegged by conventional wisdom to be on his way out of Anaheim. However with a long lull in the rumor mill and silence from both Ryan’s camp and Anaheim management, it’s starting to look more and more like the rumors surrounding Ryan will go down as nothing more than idle talk. With the season drawing closer (assuming there is no lock out), it has to be assumed that if Ryan was going to be moved, it would have happened by now.
Odds are that if there’s hockey to be played, Ryan will play it in a Ducks jersey. This gets us back to Perry’s situation. With Ryan on a line with him, or even alleviating some of the offensive pressure by playing on the second or third line, Perry’s production should see an increase due to that factor alone. Ryan has scored 30 goals in all of his first four seasons in the NHL and that kind of production is sure to better the play of those around him should it continue into his fifth year.
In addition to the Ryan factor, Getzlaf, who centers the first line that Perry plays on, will also play a huge role in determining what kind of season Perry has. As I noted prior, Getzlaf’s offensive numbers last year took a significant dive going from 76 to 57 points and only 11 goals. At center those numbers will have an immediate impact on the production of those playing on either side, and if Getzlaf isn’t able to step things up and play to his potential Perry will again have trouble converting. It seemed that at times the two of them were just very out of step; as if they had lost the chemistry they had once enjoyed playing the down low cycling style employed by then head Coach Randy Carlyle. Perhaps the transitioning from a Carlyle offense to a Boudreau offense was a bit of a learning curve for the two super stars.
Boudreau’s offense, which worked wonders for Alexander Ovechkin in Washington is built around speed and rushing. This is certainly not something we’ve seen Getzlaf thrive in. He’s much more of a power forward, and excels playing down low and cycling the puck. Though a bit more of a speed player, Perry is similar in that he has a way of slowing down the game in opponents offensive zones and making them back off in order to open up shooting and passing lanes. Boudreau’s style will have them pushing harder and faster, and won’t leave a whole lot of room for slowing things down in the offensive zone.
This leaves two questions to be answered for Ducks fans in the coming season. First, will Getzlaf be able to adjust to this and begin producing at a higher level so as to help Perry’s chances? Second, will Perry himself be able to adjust to his new coach and play the speed game that guys like Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom did so well in?
If I were a betting man, I’d have a hard time going against Perry. The odds of a player of his caliber have two “decline” season in a row just aren’t that high. If he gets some help from his teammates and adjusts to Boudreau’s new offense, the Ducks could see a fast return to a dangerous power play and a high powered offense.