Bob Murray: Anaheim makes moves to beat 'certain teams'

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Anaheim Ducks players Jiri Sekac (46), Ryan Getzlaf (15) and Cam Fowler (4) congratulalte right wing Corey Perry, 2nd from left, for his goal against Dallas Stars goalie Jhonas Enroth in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)
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Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray didn’t like the way his team played against particular squads. He felt Anaheim needed to get more mobile. A little more skilled and add a different element. He didn’t opt for wholesale changes, but instead added components to his blueline on trade deadline day that he thought would do this.

Say hey to Simon Despres and ciao to Ben ‘The Reverend’ Lovejoy. Say adios to Eric Brewer and ‘oh hi’ to Korbinian Holzer. And of course, he made a deal for James Wisniewksi.

“As the season unfolded there were certain patterns of us having struggled against certain teams, and we started a while back to say, ‘OK, we have to address different styles of teams’ there’s different styles within our conference,” Murray said. “Hopefully we’re capable now of competing against most of the teams in our conference.”

The timing of Murray’s comments is quite interesting. The Ducks came from behind to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 Friday. Anaheim is 14-4-5 in the Pacific Division and 13-3-0 versus the Central Division. Granted, the Ducks’ plus-12 goal differential is pretty mediocre for a team vying for the top record in the NHL. The Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames are actually better in this department.

The Ducks have scored 2.83 goals per-game and allowed 2.69 goal per-contest, which is not exactly a major differential at 0.14 per-contest. Does adding three new blueliners – plus forwards Jiri Sekac and Tomas Fleischmann earlier in the trading deadline period help? Maybe? According to NHL.com’s shot attempts percentage, close, the Ducks are at 50.04 percent, which is actually on the lower rung of the NHL. As for shot attempts differential, the Ducks are at plus-56, which ranks 17th in the league, per the NHL’s enhanced stats site. 

“You go along and you build to compete and beat certain teams. LA is a prime candidate and things change and it’s cyclical and there’s different teams that evolve, and so I just didn’t feel we had enough skill and speed to compete against them all,” Murray said. “Now hopefully we have enough of each in different parts of our game that we can play different games that require different styles of games.”

Interestingly enough, Murray could mean more Eastern Conference squads, when he discusses such matters. Anaheim has a 13-10-2 record against the East. Meanwhile, for example, the Predators and Blues are at 16-7-2 and 18-6-2 respectively. The Canucks are 19-9-1 against the East.

Is this a reaction, in some ways, to how the Rangers came westward in January and obliterated the Ducks and the Kings? That would be odd considering how Anaheim won’t have to worry about the East teams until it potentially vanquishes the West. Maybe it’s because the Ducks have been outscored 8-3 overall by Chicago?

But the Ducks are 2-0-0 against the quick-footed Nashville Predators – the top team in the Western Conference. You can’t beat ‘em all.

Regardless of Murray’s spin, this was one true fact: “Bottom line is the Anaheim Ducks are better than we were five, six, seven days ago” 

You could look at all the moves they made Monday as upgrades. For example, Lovejoy had fallen out of favor with Anaheim. Despres is a 23-year-old 2009 first round pick who could be in the mix with Anaheim for quite a few years. Why wouldn’t you make that trade?

“He has a chance to be a very solid top-four defenseman in the future,” Murray said of Despres.

Every move the Ducks make is looked at in relation to the Kings. It’s probably a distance/rivalry related thing.

Can Anaheim go toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup champs in another playoff series? When you add all these moves to acquiring Ryan Kesler over the summer. The answer is yes. The empire is ready to be destroyed by the duckies. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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