The Anaheim Ducks’ rough start to the season keeps lumbering forward like a knotted marionette in an Olympic sprint. For a team that was picked by many to be a Stanley Cup contender, their season starting slump of historic proportions has coach Bruce Boudreau on the hot seat.
Following Monday’s 1-0 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks have now been held scoreless in the last 128:36, have been shutout in two straight games, and have scored just a single goal in their last three games.
In fact, they’ve scored just six goals through their first eight games, made even uglier by the fact that they scored four goals in their sole win of the year, giving them just two goals in their other seven games.
Getting shutout in five of eight games isn’t something anyone expected from this team that was shutout just four times through 82 games last season.
Their six goals in eight games to start the season is tied for the second worst mark in NHL History. Only three teams have ever scored that few goals through the season’s first eight games. The most recent of those teams was the 1930-31 New York Americans. (That team would soon become the Brooklyn Americans and then were dissolved after years of debts, under performance and the team being thinned out by WWII.)
The only team that started a season with fewer goals? The 1927-28 Pittsburgh Pirates, who put in just four goals in their first eight games.
On An Individual Level
It’s not much better on an individual level for the team’s top forwards.
The Duck’s point leaders are Mike Santorelli, Rickard Rakell, and Hampus Lindhom, who have two points apiece. Team leaders Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler all have a single point and no goals. Jakob Silfverberg has no points.
Is It As Bad As It Looks?
At some point the team’s top guys just have to score, right? Getzlaf, Perry and Silfverberg rank in the top 20 players ranked by who has the most shots and no goals this season. They’ve got to break the seal at some point.
Corey Perry got close a couple of times in Monday’s loss and was definitely feeling the pressure, firing off eight shots at Chicago’s Corey Crawford throughout the game.
What should give fans a little hope is that it’s not a goaltending problem. Frederik Andersen has posted a .940 save percentage and a 1.71 goals against average through six games. The team’s 91.7% penalty kill is the best in the NHL.
And while they aren’t at the top of the league, their 29 shots per game ranks 20th in the NHL. They’re allowing just 30.1 shots against per game, which ranks 16th in the league. They aren’t at the bottom of the league anywhere but in goals and that suggests that there ought to be a rebound in the near future.
Their 2.1% team shooting percentage at even strength also suggests that the dam will burst soon.
But they’re way down there in goals. The third worst goals per game rate in the league is a full goal per game better than the Ducks’ 0.75 rate. The second fewest total team goals is over double what the Ducks have.
There’s a lot to suggest that Anaheim will round a corner in the very near future, but ultimately, if it’s not tonight against the Stars, they’re digging a hole in the standings that it’s going to be difficult to get out of, particularly with the Pacific not being quite as weak as expected.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.