The O-Face

Hey, I'm even using my feet to score.

[Editor's Note: This post was submitted before tonight's game against the Coyotes.]

ROBBY:
In my preseason prediction post, I pretentiously postulated (when the alliteration hits, you just gotta go with it) that the Anaheim Ducks would enter 2010-2011 as a team without an identity. I also predicted that a) the defense wouldn't be as bad as we feared it would be and b) the team would need to establish itself as an offensive juggernaut in order to find some direction in the post-Niedermayer era. Thus far, I appear to be correct on both counts.

Through 24 games (and eerily enough, the post-Thanksgiving game has been game 24 in both 2009 and 2010), this year's squad has surrendered fewer goals than last year's team at this point (73 vs. 77). Unfortunately, they've also tallied 11 fewer goals than last year's iteration. As far as records go, the Ducks are exactly where they were through 24 games last year: 10-11-3.

While the Ducks have made some progress on the blue line (substituting Lubo, Lydman, and Fowler for Wisniewski, Whitney, and Boynton/Eminger will do that), their offense looks to be drying up. To further diagnose this, I wanted to take a look at the performance of our key offensive players over the first 30% of the season in 2009 and 2010.

Ryan Getzlaf

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

TOI

Shots

2009

24

4

23

27

3

22:47

52

2010

24

7

14

21

-3

20:45

37

Corey Perry

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

TOI

Shots

2009

24

13

17

30

4

21:26

84

2010

24

10

13

23

1

21:54

81

Bobby Ryan

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

TOI

Shots

2009

24

10

7

17

2

19:44

79

2010

24

9

10

19

4

21:11

92

Teemu Selanne

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

TOI

Shots

2009

24

14

5

19

-7

17:29

72

2010

22

8

14

22

-2

17:23

57

Saku Koivu

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

+/-

TOI

Shots

2009

19

2

8

10

0

18:50

37

2010

24

9

5

14

-2

18:51

33

As bad as we've been this year, can you image where we'd be without Saku Koivu? He's dramatically increased his offensive output in roughly the same amount of ice time. But what's truly amazing about this is that despite the individual fluctuations of the various players, the aggregate goal output over the first 24 games from these five players is exactly what it was last year.

In other words, while these five players have accounted for 74% of this year's goals, that same output accounted for 62% of the scoring last year. So while it's easy to blame Ryan Getzlaf for having a less-than-impressive season (and these stats don't even consider turnovers), the real problem this year is a lack of secondary scoring.

Last year's squad benefitted from 20 games of Joffrey Lupul over the first 24 games, and his 10 points (6-4=10) over that stretch are sorely missed. While Scott Niedermayer's calming presence is certainly missed on defense, Lubomir Visnovsky has capably filled Scotty's offensive role. Over the span, Lubo has 18 points (3-15=18) to Niedermayer's 16 (3-13=16).

So who's to blame for this season's lack of offense? Certain players are definitely not contributing at the rate they're capable of (I'm looking at you, Getzlaf) and injuries have hurt the team. But at some point, I think the blame has to go to coach Randy Carlyle for failing to put together consistent scoring lines. As has been well-documented in various mediums, Carlyle doesn't seem to show much faith in his rookies, often giving them eight minutes or less a night. While that results in more ice time for his top players, it also limits the ability of his bottom-six forwards to find any rhythm and chemistry.

My hope is that a healthy Joffrey Lupul can finally yield the three scoring lines this team badly needs to succeed (although Carlyle's reluctance to try this approach with his current resources really makes you wonder if this will matter at all). We all know this team isn't going to get by on the strength of its defense, so they've got to score more goals.

What do you think? Who's to blame for the Ducks' offensive woes this season?

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