It’s been a February to forget in Anaheim. Their latest loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators underscored just how mediocre they’ve been in the past 27 days, going 4-5-1 in their last ten games.
In the month of February, the Ducks have been one of the worst possession teams in the National Hockey League. They were never an elite team in that regard to begin with, but this month has been especially bad.
The only teams that have been worst than the Ducks have been the Oilers, Sabres, Flames, Avalanche, and Devils. That’s not exactly the crowd that Anaheim would like to be in if they hope to win a Stanley Cup.
Bob Murray’s acquisition of Jiri Sekac was an encouraging sign earlier in the week. It signals that the Ducks’ front office is well aware of their offensive woes, and acquiring a player of Sekac’s ilk should at least give head coach Bruce Boudreau more flexibility in composing his lineup.
With a 13 point lead at the top of the Pacific, Anaheim has the luxury of taking their time in adjusting their game. Injuries to possession mavens Sami Vatanen and Matt Beleskey haven’t helped, but when you’re only better than the five worst possession teams in the entire league, something is clearly amiss.
Less than an hour north up the 405 freeway, the Los Angeles Kings have been absolutely shredding the rest of the league. Winners of eight of their last ten, the Kings have been the best possession team in the month of February and throughout the entire season.
The Kings play a very rudimentary game: hard rims to enter the zone and shots from the point with traffic in front. There’s no glamour to their game, but it’s clearly much more effective than Anaheim’s high-octane offense.
Not only are the Kings an efficient team, but after their playoff success in the last three seasons, they know exactly who they are.
The Ducks on the other hand, seem to searching for their identity each and every game. A lot of that has to do with Boudreau constantly shuffling his lines, and a lot of it also has to do with the fact that perhaps their identity isn’t all that good.
Being able to win games off of speed and goaltending is great, but eventually it comes crashing down, as the Ducks are becoming well aware of. Regardless of the outcome Friday night’s “Freeway Faceoff” at the Honda Center, Anaheim should take a long look at the style of their freeway foes.