Another game, another punch to the gut for the Anaheim Ducks.
Just when it finally looked like things were turning around with a 3-0 lead over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday evening, the Ducks allowed four consecutive goals to send their season into further tailspin.
Through about 30 minutes, Anaheim dictated play against Dallas. The puck was moving in the offensive zone, and the breakout looked crisp for once.
Yet as soon as the Ducks felt pressure, they badly buckled, opening up a slew of questions about this team’s fate and that of its coach Bruce Boudreau, especially with captain Ryan Getzlaf out for the next couple of weeks.
With just one measly win in nine games, there can’t possibly be any positives, can there? Let’s give it a shot, as there have in fact been some bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.
1. The Play Of Frederik Andersen
Although the Ducks are a mess in all three zones, they can rest assured that their crease is in good hands. Through seven starts, Andersen is rocking a .94 adjusted save percentage, easily a career high for the big Dane.
His play was especially impressive against the Hawks on Monday, where he stopped 23 of 24 shots to will his team into overtime. With another summer of training under his belt, Andersen looks even stronger on his feet and seems mentally dialed in. The Ducks need to start putting some goals away, as they’re currently wasting some absolutely brilliant performances from their goaltender, including this magnificent “save of the year” candidate.
2. Rickard Rakell and Jiri Sekac
A lot of the buzz going into the season revolved around the addition of Carl Hagelin, and perhaps rightfully so given how Hagelin shone in New York.
The tandem of Rakell and Sekac has easily out-shone Hagelin so far though, as the rest of the forward group (with the exception of Mike Santorelli) has been dead quiet. Both boast speed and creativity that the Ducks will badly need in Getzlaf’s absence. Rakell is extremely adept at making plays on the rush, while Sekac can get the puck down low and control it along the boards.
Neither of their possession ratings are eye-popping so far, but they clearly have the talent to grow into crucial pieces of this roster.
3. It’s Early
Look, there’s not much positive in the way the Ducks are playing. Their defense is porous at times, and they seem to fade as the game wears on. And when they do put together some solid hockey for 60 minutes, as they did against Chicago, the puck refuses to go in the net.
Their early scoring drought may already ending though. The three goals they poured in against Dallas were a brief preview of their microscopic shooting percentage regressing back up to the mean. Schematically, they remain a work in progress, but they still have time to figure it out. Better take a critical look at the team’s play now than playoff time.
If the coaching staff can correctly identify and mend the Ducks’ issues, then this slump could be the best thing that ever happened to them. Whether that can happen in a timely fashion remains to be seen, but Anaheim does have time on its side at the moment, if only for an instant.