Ducks’ Comtois Struggling Despite His Metrics and Stats

Max Comtois picks up the puck from the center line and strides in from the right side. He fakes forehand and then shifts to the backhand. His shot is saved.

This is a microcosm of Comtois’s season to this point, his shootout attempt against the Vegas Golden Knights on Nevada Day in the Ducks’ dramatic 4-3 loss, in which they furiously came back from a 3-0 deficit only to fall in the skills competition.

Last season’s top goal scorer for the Ducks, Comtois has failed to find the net at all this season and even remains without a point on the season, scoreless in 10 games with a minus-8 rating. He’s found himself on the fourth line at times due to his struggles and has now been a healthy scratch twice this season, the second of which came on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Comtois Keeps Passing Up Opportunities

There have been instances this season where Comtois was in a prime spot to shoot the puck, but instead opted to pass it. Whether it’s a confidence issue or a matter of trying to force a play can only be revealed by the player himself, but one thing’s for sure — it’s not anything reminiscent of the player who led the team in goals last season.

Max Comtois Anaheim Ducks
Max Comtois, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“He just needs to finish,” said Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins. “We have no interest in him making passes. We don’t need him to pass the puck. Whoever his centerman is, that’s their job to distribute. We just want him to put it in the net.” (From, ‘Ducks have several reasons for optimism, and a few worrying signs after surprisingly strong start,’ The Athletic, 11/03/21)

Comtois is Experiencing Regression to the Mean

Given his zero points on the season, it’s no surprise that Comtois’ shooting percentage is the same number as his points total. A 17.0 shooting percentage (S%) from last season was never going to be sustainable. Even one of the best goal scorers in the league, Alexander Ovechkin, averages about a 12.6 S% for his career. With Comtois’ possession metrics relatively the same as last season to this point, this feels more like a lower conversion rate than anything.

“A lot of it is that goal just hasn’t gone in. “He’s had some unbelievable, glorious chances. I think that’s weighing heavily on him.”

– Dallas Eakins (From, ‘Ducks’ Max Comtois ‘in a rut’ and out of the lineup,’ Orange County Register, 11/02/21)

Max-imum Effort

One of the reasons that Comtois has found himself lower in the lineup lately is because of his lacking defensive effort. While he will never be considered a defensive stalwart, Eakins was hesitant to keep Comtois on a line with Trevor Zegras — with whom Comtois developed chemistry with late into last season — and Rickard Rakell as Eakins felt the line would lack defensive coverage.

“The thing we’re not going to do as an organization is let you play just to score a goal and suddenly you’re playing a good game,” said Eakins. “There’s other parts of his game that are suffering.”

Plus-minus isn’t the best indicator of how good or bad that a player is defensively, but Comtois’ minus-8 rating can’t be ignored either. Given his current lack of scoring, the negative rating becomes much more of an eyesore.

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With his offensive production lacking, Comtois has to make his presence felt in other ways. He showed some of that on Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes, getting into it with Coyotes forward Johan Larsson. The so-called “snarl” that Comtois demonstrated in being unafraid to drop the gloves is something that will get him some brownie points with Eakins.

Eakins said that Comtois is “in a rut” and will have to “fight for his ice.” He also added that there’s frustration and that it’s natural.

“There’s a process for a player going through this,” Eakins said. “They’re going to fight back. They’re going to stick with the same habits because they believe in them. But he understands that he needs a little bit of change, and we’re all in on this kid. I’ve loved him since day one. He’s got all the skill set we need.”

Growing pains can be tough for a young player. But the Ducks are committed to ensuring that Comtois succeeds and they’ll be with him every step of the way during this tough stretch.

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