For those of you eagerly awaiting this week’s edition of Between the Reeds, my deepest apologies for the later than expected post. Nonetheless, week seven brought about a frustrating week for Anaheim Ducks fans. Yes, they went 1-1-1, but a frustrating loss to the New York Islanders in a 14-round shootout, a lackluster performance against Chicago, followed by an impressive come from behind victory in San Jose presented a microcosm of the Ducks’ season thus far. What follows will be some of the top storylines for the Ducks’ 2016-17 campaign.
Game 20: vs. New York Islanders – L 3-2 in shootout (5-4); Jonathan Bernier
Game 21: vs. Chicago – L 3-2 (John Gibson)
Game 22: @ San Jose – W 3-2 (Bernier, Ryan Getzlaf GWG)
Overall: 10-8-4, 24 points; 4th in Pacific, 9th in Western Conference
The Boys Are Back in Town
Every Ducks fan if familiar with the combination known simply as the twins in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. However, there is a new set of Swedish twins that have begun to formulate in Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm. Contract negotiations were expected to be short orders of business for general manager Bob Murray this summer, but that was not the case as Rakell and Lindholm talks dragged into the new season. Rakell was the first to sign, with Lindholm following shortly thereafter.
With a new six-year contract, stud defenseman Hampus Lindholm says he can't wait to join the Ducks. https://t.co/rKmPyLfd8d
— Kyle Shohara (@kyleshohara) October 27, 2016
The Swedish twins have taken off to start their seasons, as Rakell already has nine goals and 13 points in his first 14 games. He is already leading the team in goals scored. Lindholm has yet to find his offensive game, but he has provided stability to the backend and given the Ducks a better option for the second power play unit besides Kevin Bieksa. Head coach Randy Carlyle now has the envious position of being able to utilize Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Sami Vatanen at any one given time.
Depth Forwards Stepping Up
Most of the chatter going into this season was about the Ducks’ forward group and how lackluster the depth appeared
to be. Thankfully for Anaheim, their so-called shutdown line of Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, and Andrew Cogliano have combined for 20 goals, 23 assists, and a plus-24 between the three of them. Besides shutting down the other team’s top line on most nights, all three make significant contributions on the penalty kill as well.
Aside from the trio mentioned above, lines have finally seemed to be cemented for Carlyle. Getzlaf has consistently centered Rakell and Perry while an unlikely three of Antoine Vermette, Nick Ritchie, and Ondrej Kase have formed chemistry. By the way, here is the correct enunciation of Kase’s name:
Apparently, the correct way to pronounce Ondrej Kase's last name is 'KAH-shuh' – not 'kah-SAY' – as per John Ahlers.
— Kyle Shohara (@kyleshohara) November 27, 2016
We all have heard about Vermette and the highly-touted Ritchie, but many may not have heard of Kase. The 6′, 180-pound Czech native was taken by the Ducks in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He spent last season with the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls but only played 25 games as he was derailed with a concussion from October until mid-February.
Scoring depth is always something coaches preach and hope for in a long season. However, so far it has been the depth forwards that have contributed more and the likes of Perry and Getzlaf that need to step it up.
Game 23: vs. Montreal Canadiens, Tuesday, November 29 – W 2-1 (Gibson, GWG: Cam Fowler)
Game 24: @ Vancouver, Thursday, Dec. 1, 7:00 PST
Game 25: @ Edmonton, Saturday, Dec. 3, 7:00 PST
Game 26: @ Calgary, Sunday, Dec. 4, 6:30 PST
The Montreal game kicked off four-straight games for the Ducks against Canadian teams. Gibson matched Carey Price save for save to give the Ducks two points against the NHL’s best team. They now embark on their annual Western Canada road trip with a trip to Vancouver to start things off. The Ducks defeated the Canucks 4-2 to open up Honda Center this season.
After starting the season off strong, the Canucks have cooled of late, but have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10, including two wins in a row. The Ducks then have to go back-to-back in Alberta, starting with the upstart Edmonton Oilers, who the Ducks also defeated 4-1 at Honda Center. Edmonton has also cooled off since their hot start, but still sit two games above .500. To finish off the brief road swing, Anaheim travels to Calgary to face the disappointing Flames. Big things were expected from the young guns in Calgary, but so far they are only 10-13-2 with a minus-20 goal differential.
Divisional games are always important during the season, and so far the Ducks are 6-1-1 against the Pacific Division. Three straight games against divisional opponents may be exactly what the Ducks need to build off their two-game win streak and climb in the standings.
Highlight of the Week:
Some quick set of hands by Rakell shown here.
Minus of the Week:
You would have thought the referees would have wanted to go home by this point.