I was preparing myself to write about how - of all people - Ryan Getzlaf has impressed me the most thus far. Not because he's been brilliant or overly productive but because I'm happy with the little things he's been doing both on and off the ice (shooting the puck, calling out Jordan Tootoo, etc). The Ducks are floundering right now and leadership is just one of many things they'll need to pull them through. I'm beginning to feel more confident in Getzlaf's capabilities in being that leader...
...and then the Ducks played Washington and I couldn't bring myself to glorify anyone because I was just too damn disappointed.
I'm not really sure what's going on here. Well, that's kind of a lie. I have a crap load of speculation and a bunch of fingers to point in a million different directions. This road trip has been a disaster thus far. A good indication that things might not go as planned was that first overtime loss to Chicago. Talk about a quick way to deflate your tires.
From there the Ducks were able to redeem themselves in Minnesota thanks to my hate for Dany Heatley, the big three scoring goals, and some fabulous assists coming from one of our many skilled Finns. Since then the Ducks can't buy a win. Giving up a 3 goal lead in Washington is a good example of that.
So what's the problem with Anaheim? Why aren't things going as we'd all hoped? Here are a couple ideas to get the debate started...
-- Shooting the puck - exactly what the Ducks aren't doing. In the first game against Chicago, the Ducks had 31 SOG to the Blackhawks 35. Since then, they've averaged about 18 SOG per game. Break that down even further and that's 6 shots per period. Yes, 6. That's like one really good power play opportunity, but for an entire 20 minutes of play - not going to cut it - especially when you've got snipers like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne.
-- I get cycling the puck and I understand working the play - but if the play never results in a single shot, what was the point?
-- Selanne is on pace for 273 shots and his new linemate Andrew Cogliano is only on pace for 109.
-- Defensive blunders. Even though the Ducks defense to start the season might look better on paper than it did last year, for some reason they aren't playing that way right now. I don't know if the pairings are off, Cam Fowler is just off, or the fact that Lubomir Visnovsky has yet to look like the beautiful 68 points he had last season. There are too many times where something isn't clicking the way it should. The Ducks were lucky to have one of the best duos in the league last year with Lubo and Toni Lydman. While it seems as though Lydman is picking up steam after coming back from his off-season shoulder surgery, I feel like he is leaving his partner behind and it's a bit awkward.
-- Francois Beauchemin is on pace to block a blistering 246 shots this season. Visnovsky is only on pace to score 26 points.
-- Turnovers abound! Normally I'd be the first to point the finger at Getzlaf, but his crazy no look through the slot passes are decreasing with time, and that makes me happy. However, the overall sloppy play with an excessive amount of passing and not shooting is getting ridiculous. This gets us into an infinite loop of passing, not shooting, turning the puck over, and quite frankly I don't want to live in that world.
-- Scoring. I definitely don't have a problem with watching Selanne climb the scoring charts or pumping my fist every time Perry gets closer to defending that Rocket Richard trophy. I do have a problem if those guys are not scoring. Anaheim has been bitten by that very case twice on this road trip when finding the back of the net was a real issue against both Nashville and Columbus. The big goals in games were the Ducks have scored are coming from the usual suspects.
-- Aside from the Big 4, no one else on the team has more than 1 goal. Selanne is leading the team with 14 points, and Perry is next with 8. You can only imagine how it drops off after that.
-- There is a reason the Ducks brought on a player like Andrew Cogliano, and now would be a mighty fine time for him to start scoring. I'm willing to be patient - to an extent - but the Ducks are floundering. Great players come through during these times of disparity, and while Cogliano might not fit the mold of "great", he can sure use this chance to be impressive. His new role on the second line, if it sticks, can really help him break through this slump and gain some confidence.
-- Of course we can't look to only one player to make a move and become more effective. Matt Beleskey has been playing alongside many of these same players for a few years now. We know he can score and I love when he takes aim. Scoring may not be his forte, but if he and players like Andrew Gordon don't want to change their "current location" status to Syracuse, they'd better get it figured out. The Ducks are starting to look very shallow and that's a huge concern.
-- Jonas Hiller's inconsistency? Hiller can only do so much when the group in front of him isn't performing up to par. When that very group of guys isn't scoring his hands are definitely tied, but the game in Washington exposed Hiller to an extent. He let in some real stink bombs, and while it's great to see him back and healthy, I'm ready to see him steal a few games for Anaheim when they need it most. You know, like, now.
-- I hate to blame a game on bounces. It's a cop out. Hustle and some hard work defeat the bounce. Outwork, outplay and outhustle the bounce. Some drive and determination go a long way.
Of course this is just an appetizer of the many issues Anaheim is struggling through right now. Make us proud, get opinionated, be bold, and share your thoughts in the comments.