Silver Lining?

Remember this? It's called winning. It's fun. Let's try it again.

It's tough to find any motivation to write when your team is so embarrassingly and infuriatingly bad. Sure, you can vent and bitch and complain, but that only offers so much relief. We can propose line combinations, advocate for changes in captaincy, or scream for the coach's dismissal, but after that, what's left?

One of the most excruciating things about this season so far is how badly we've under-performed as a team. After all, we have the reigning league MVP, the reigning point-leader among defensemen, and four of our skaters finished in the top 21 amongst point leaders last season. In fact, the Ducks had five players (Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Lubomir Visnovsky) finish in the top 30 for points last season. The next best teams (Dallas, Chicago, and Vancouver) only featured three such skaters.

In short: We shouldn't be this bad.

At 6-9-4 and 14th place in the Western Conference, it's hard to find a whole lot to be hopeful about. But here are some potential reasons why the Ducks' luck may eventually turn.

A Brutal Schedule

Thus far, the Ducks have faced one of the toughest schedules in the NHL. According to Hockey Reference, they have the third toughest schedule (Carolina has the toughest and the Islanders have the second most difficult). Anaheim's opponents are a combined 136-90-25 and have an average of 21 standings points. Jokes about feasting off the Ducks aside, Anaheim has faced some pretty good teams in through their first 19 games.

Career Lows

Player

Career PPG

Current PPG

Career S%

Current S%

Career S/G

Current S/G

Corey Perry

0.684

0.814

12.5

10.4

2.99

3.53

Teemu Selanne

1.063

0.947

15.4

10.7

3.27

2.95

Ryan Getzlaf

0.949

0.579

12.5

9.3

2.32

2.26

Bobby Ryan

0.784

0.473

13.9

9.8

2.94

2.68

Lubomir Visnvosky

0.594

0.250

8.9

3.2

1.76

1.94

Um, yikes. Only Perry is currently topping his career production and while Teemu is close, Bobby, Getz, and Lubo are all significantly below their career averages. What I find truly fascinating, though, are the shot percentages and shot rates. Not only are we not shooting as much, but EVERYONE has been less successful with their shots than they typically are.

I know attributing this to luck seems like a cop out, but it seems highly unlikely that everyone on the team would concurrently have terrible years. The point totals are obviously related, but there's really no viable explanation for the shot percentages.

Adding to this mess is Jonas Hiller's rough start. His current 2.94 GAA and .905 save percentage are well below his career norms of 2.55 and .920.

It's pretty clear that this team is better than they've played. At some point, logic would suggest that things MUST turn around.

OT/SO Failures

Finally, this team has played five games that have gone beyond regulation. Of the five games, the Ducks have only won one of them. This is a curious departure for a team that has been relatively successful in the extra frame over the last few years. Last season, the Ducks won 13 off 18 SO/OT games. They only won 8 of 19 in 2009-2010, but won 12 of 19 in 2008-2009. Over the past three years, the Ducks have won 33 of 56 OT/SO affairs, nearly 59% of such games. We're obviously dealing with some sample size concerns so far this season, but again, this is an area where the Ducks should be more successful than they have been.

It may seem overly Pollyanna-ish to cling to these data points, but I simply cannot accept that this team is a bad one. We have talented players and we've enjoyed recent success with this core. We have certainly played below our standards and capabilities. That's not even debatable. But there is enough reason to believe that things can and will turn around.

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