If Frederik Anderson starts the first game for the Anaheim Ducks are we sitting at 6-0 right now? After all, we did score four goals in the Pittsburgh game, which is statistically more than enough to win on most nights.
But I don't want to disparage John Gibson. He'll get his chance.
In the meantime, Ducks fans (myself included) should still be pretty happy with a 5-1 record to open the season, considering we've played four of those games on the road.
http://t.co/MCoCZJGPT6's NHL Power Top 10: Anaheim Ducks soar to hot start http://t.co/soeRpIokmj via @SInow
— Mike Ross (@NHLRossy) October 22, 2014
And we could have won the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Maybe Gibson was just nervous playing so close to his hometown.
One thing is clear: Anaheim is off to a fantastic start.
And our team's good fortune is likely due to the following three bright spots.
1. Frederik Anderson's Goaltending
Again, this is not to dog on Gibson, his play or his potential.
Things can go north or south for any goaltender in a relatively quick period of time, especially at the professional level. So at this point, I don't have sufficient cause to think "less" of Gibson.
That said, Anderson is undoubtedly the better goaltender as of late.
Last week I compared the stats of the two goaltenders in what had been their most recent three games at that point. Three games later, Anderson has only gotten better.
Frederik Anderson's 2014-2015 Stats
Those are Vezina, dare I say, MVP numbers folks.
You might say, "Yeah, but it's a small sample size, and how could such good stats be sustainable if he plays 50-60 games?"
I understand, because I think the same way. But is it really that far-fetched to think that Anderson is this good?
Hot Goalie Frederik Andersen Has The Anaheim Ducks Surging http://t.co/gGnJoSr2JL pic.twitter.com/Lx8p43JmsD
— XN Sports (@XNSports) October 20, 2014
I don't think it is, simply because the Ducks haven't played unusual games. What I mean by that is while they've played well, there hasn't been any bizarre circumstances that have led to Anderson's great numbers.
He has one shutout and Anaheim's defense has allowed an average of just under 28 shots on goal per game during the five game stretch that Anderson has played in.
And out of the five games they've won, three of them have been by only one goal.
It has been your average, garden-variety five-game winning streak. And while there's plenty of credit to go around (Getzlaf, Perry, Karlsson, etc.), Anderson has been a breathe of fresh air and has brought some much-needed stability to our goaltending situation.
Jonas Hiller never did that. J.S. Giguere wasn't able to do that after the Stanley Cup run in 2007.
Frederik Andersen has a 25-5-0 career regular-season record. Remarkable. #NHLDucks #Denmark
— Pete Jensen (@NHLJensen) October 20, 2014
So maybe Anderson is our guy, and maybe he's good enough to go the distance.
Time will tell, but the performance thus far has been nearly perfect.
2. The Young Guys Have Come to Play
Has anyone noticed that Sami Vatanen leads Anaheim defenders in scoring?
His two goals have both come on the powerplay to go along with three assists, which are numbers that you'd have to consider a bonus when you look at preseason expectations for the young defender.
Vatanen has earned himself a spot on the team's first powerplay line, and is quickly becoming one of the most integral pieces of Anaheim's powerplay as a whole, who's 25 percent conversion rate ranks ninth in the NHL.
Another kid who is getting time on the first powerplay unit is William Karlsson, who has made his presence felt with a two-goal game in Buffalo, helping to boost Anaheim's 5-1 takedown of the Sabres.
He's been held scoreless outside of that game.
That said, his offensive upside still looks to be significant. If he makes a habit of showing up on the scoresheet (and he's got the shot to do it), that would make the Ducks lineup extremely well-stocked in the middle of the ice. We haven't even mentioned Andrew Cogliano and Rickard Rakell.
Also if you want to stretch the term "youngster" a bit, Matt Beleskey has contributed four goals already.
His career high is nine.
3. The Powerplay
It's tough to brag about your powerplay when the Penguins are converting nearly 50 percent of their chances.
But the Ducks have looked great with the man-advantage, cashing in on 25 percent of their opportunities. Though three of the team's six powerplay goals have come off the stick of Corey Perry, the Ducks have a lot of skill dispersed between their two powerplay lines. And that's without Dany Heatley or Patrick Maroon, who are both hurt.
Heatley had a rough go in Minnesota, but his return should still make Anaheim a better powerplay team. Who else (other than the Penguins and maybe the Dallas Stars) has that much talent to throw at teams who take penalties?
Look for Ryan Getzlaf to be moved to the point again (where he played on the powerplay already this year) while Heatley takes one of the wing spots.
A Look Forward
So far so good, right?
You couldn't ask for much more to go our way this early in the season. Even Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan Kesler are at the top of the stat sheet. All is well in the hockey world of Orange County.
But what are their chances of keeping it up?
Anaheim's goaltending situation looks to be solved for the meantime and as long as they're getting production from younger players to boost an already solid performance from their top two lines, they're a team that nobody wants to play.
If the Ducks finish strong in October, they've got nine of 13 games in November at home, giving them a real chance to solidify their spot at the top of the NHL as the season's sample size grows.
The future is bright folks.
Bring on Los Angeles, and keep starting Anderson.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Dinur