‘Ducks Drill Down’ is a regular, ~weekly column that recaps the latest goings-on with the Anaheim Ducks.
Another week, and another injury to a big-name player on the Anaheim Ducks. This time, veteran star and leading point scorer Corey Perry was the one to fall victim to Anaheim’s injury epidemic that long ago passed the point of absurdity. It put a damper on what was an otherwise productive week for the Ducks, as they picked up five of a possible six points.
Perry Injures Knee Against Hurricanes
In Monday’s home contest against the Carolina Hurricanes—the Ducks’ final home game before a six-game road trip out east—there was a good deal of positivity surrounding the club, as captain Ryan Getzlaf returned to action for the first time since Oct. 29 (coincidentally against the Hurricanes), at which time he had suffered a fractured cheekbone when he took a puck to his face in the game’s opening minute. Winger Jakob Silfverberg also returned from an upper-body injury that had kept him sidelined for five games and scored a goal in the Ducks’ 3-2 victory.
What marred all of that, however, was Perry hurting his knee in a collision with Carolina’s Jeff Skinner that looked…well, not good.
Thankfully, Perry is said to be out on a week-to-week basis, which is about the best scenario Anaheim could have hoped for after seeing how much he struggled to put weight on his right leg following the collision. Still, though, it’s hard to overlook how ridiculous this season has become with what the Ducks have had to endure.
“It’s frustrating,” said defenseman Cam Fowler, who missed significant time earlier in the season with a knee injury of his own. “I guess you do kind of become numb to it, just because it seems to be making its way through the team. And to our high-caliber guys. It’s one thing to deal with injuries. It’s another when you have top guys that are constantly going down and that seems to be what’s happening with us right now.
“But we’re trying to stay positive. Stay focused. We’re obviously going to miss ‘Pears’ and wish him a speedy recovery. But we have to continue to push forward.”
The Ducks do have some players back and another acquired through trade (Adam Henrique) who can help assuage Perry’s absence, as well as the continued absence of Ryan Kesler until he’s ready to return. Ondrej Kase is back in the lineup after a couple of stints on IR, and rookie Kevin Roy is proving himself to be a capable offensive threat in the top-six forward group. Getzlaf and Silfverberg will add more punch up front. Then on the back end, there was more good news as defenseman Hampus Lindholm returned for Saturday’s game in Washington.
So it isn’t all doom and gloom for the Ducks, but heightened cynicism for fans this season would be understandable, as it feels to some degree like only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt. Hopefully that will not be the case.
Ducks Picking Up Points
The other positive development for the Ducks is that they continue to stay in the hunt after going 2-0-1 in their three games over the past week. After the 3-2 win against Carolina, where John Gibson was solid again with 28 saves on 30 shots, they went into St. Louis on Thursday and picked up another win there after previously picking up a 3-2 victory on Nov. 29. Roy scored twice in the third period en route to a 3-1 Anaheim victory over the Blues, who look the part of one of the Western Conference’s top contenders this season.
Saturday night’s contest in the nation’s capital left a bit of a sour taste in the Ducks’ mouths, as they let a 2-0 third-period lead slip away before falling in overtime. In the extra session, the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin ripped home a shot from the right circle to leave the Ducks with just one point after two points were so tantalizingly close. The loss was more of the same for Anaheim with respect to overtime and shootouts, as it dropped the team to a dismal 2-8 in games decided beyond regulation this season.
Nevertheless, a 1-0-1 start to the long road trip is far from bad, and through Saturday’s games, the Ducks sat just one point out of a playoff spot.
The Ducks look to keep racking up the points (and of course avoid further injuries) over the final four games of their east-coast swing, but it won’t be easy. They face off Monday night in New Jersey against a vastly improved Devils squad before taking the ice at Madison Square Garden the following evening against a New York Rangers team that is playing much better hockey after a brutal month of October.
Anaheim will then complete its tour through the three New York metro-area teams when they battle the potent New York Islanders Thursday night. Finally, they’ll end the road trip Saturday night in Pittsburgh against the struggling but always-dangerous defending Stanley Cup champions.
The road is becoming difficult for the Ducks, but they might finally have enough firepower back in the lineup to navigate through it with some success, even with Perry being out.