The Anaheim Ducks are in a funk and need to get out of it fast. While a shot at a playoff berth this season may have been wishful thinking, it’s still fair to expect that their performance should be better than what it’s been thus far.
Ducks Go Winless on Road Trip
Not much went right for the Ducks in their five-game road trip as they were outscored 24-9 and returned home without a single win. Special teams played a large factor in the Ducks’ struggles during those five games as the penalty kill was eviscerated on multiple occasions and the power play had little to show. Goaltending hasn’t been a point of strength either with John Gibson struggling to find consistent form.
Kulikov Gets 200th Career Point
Dmitry Kulikov registered his 200th career NHL point on Wednesday, Oct. 26 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with the primary assist on Trevor Zegras’ goal. Kulikov joined the Ducks this past offseason after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for future considerations. He was partnered with Jamie Drysdale in training camp and the pairing has continued since into the regular season. Kulikov is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Eakins Likely to Finish Season as Head Coach
For all the early season struggles the Ducks have had, it appears unlikely that a coaching change will occur at any point this season. Head coach Dallas Eakins is in the final year of his contract after having his option exercised at the end of last season. General manager Pat Verbeek wanted to give Eakins a fairer shot in 2022-23 after gutting the team at the trade deadline last season (from, ‘Is the Anaheim Ducks’ season already cooked? Should Dallas Eakins’ seat be hot?,’ The Athletic, 10/27/22).
Fans will clamor for changes after feeling as if progress has stalled since the appointment of Eakins back in 2019, but the best option may perhaps be to simply ride out the season and give Verbeek the entirety of next offseason to choose the next successor to the had coaching position.
Drysdale Suffers Injury vs. Vegas
The Ducks could potentially be without one of their top defenseman for the foreseeable future after Drysdale suffered an injury on Oct. 28 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Drysdale was checked hard into the boards behind the net by William Carrier and immediately went down in a heap. He headed straight down the tunnel to the locker room. The Ducks announced soon after that he had an upper-body injury and would not return to the game.
If Drysdale is indeed out long-term, it will be a big blow to the Ducks’ blue line. John Klingberg and Kevin Shattenkirk are currently the only two other right-handed defensemen in the organization with significant NHL experience and Drysdale was expected to take a giant leap in his development this season.
Ducks Winless Since Opening Night
With Friday’s loss to the Golden Knights, the Ducks remain winless since their overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken on opening night. A return home after the winless road trip didn’t fare much better with a 3-2 loss to the Lightning and then the 4-0 loss yesterday in Vegas leaves Anaheim with a 1-6-1 record and a seven-game losing streak.
It’s still early into the season, but results have not been very promising to this point. The Ducks now sit dead-last in the entire league with just three points through eight games. The rebuild is firmly in action and there’s sure to be more struggles in the future.
The Ducks’ next game comes at home on Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs followed by a three-game road trip along the western coast.
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Derek Lee is a contributor for The Hockey Writers covering the Anaheim Ducks. Derek has spent nearly two decades immersed in the world of sports and has been writing about sports for five years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication in May 2020 from UCCS in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he also spent two and a half years on staff with their on-campus student newspaper–both as a sports reporter and editor. In his free time, he enjoys playing FIFA, curating his Spotify playlists and attending concerts & sporting events