Power Outage

ROBBY:


It's sort of funny how our minds play tricks on us. After Tuesday night's debacle in Washington, and the other misadventures of the current road trip, spirits are pretty low among Ducks fans. I was convinced that some digging through the numbers would reveal significant insights about our struggles this year and how they compare with last season.

I found some of what I thought I would. And something that completely floored me.

As we know, the Ducks currently sit at 5-5-2 through 12 games this season. Any guesses on where we were at the same point last year? 4-7-1. A full three standings points behind our current position. I don't know about you, but I find this remarkable. We all knew we had a slow start last season, but somehow our current situation seems monumentally worse. I guess all of the hand-wringing over the past six games has clouded our perspective to a degree. I'm not here to pretend that everything is great, but things may not be as bad as they seem.

There are, however, two areas where the Ducks are failing when compared to the first 12 games of last season.

We all know that the goal-scoring hasn't been up to snuff. Yes, our top forwards haven't contributed quite at the pace we expect. But the power play, and our defenseman, have also failed to measure up.

The Power Play

Here are the relevant numbers through 12 games:

2011-2012

2010-2011

Power Play Goals

7

10

Power Play Opportunities

46

42

PP per Game

3.833

3.5

PP %

15.2%

23.8%

Power Play Shots

69

62

Shots Per Power Play

1.5

1.48

So while this year's squad is getting more opportunities with the man advantage, they have been significantly less successful. One thing that particularly jumps out at me are the shot totals. It certainly feels like we weren't throwing enough pucks at the net this year on the PP, but this year's squad has actually shot the puck more than last year's did. It makes sense that when you're not scoring, it would seem like you're not shooting enough.

So what's to explain the difference in success rates? It's hard to say. All of our PP goals this year have been scored by either Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, or Ryan Getzlaf. The defense has not found the net at all on the PP, despite having two premiere offensive defenseman in Lubomir Visnovsky and Cam Fowler. It's entirely possible that teams are keying in more on Corey Perry (and really, wouldn't you), forcing us to take more point shots. And thus far, the point shots have largely failed to work.

Offense From the Blue Line

2011-2012

2010-2011

Goals

4

5

Assists

19

13

Points

23

18

Scorers

Francois Beauchemin

Kurtis Foster

Nate Guenin

Lubomir Visnovsky

Toni Lydman (2)

Cam Fowler

Danny Syvret

Lubomir Visnovsky

This area isn't nearly as exaggerated as the power play discrepancy, but when you're only scoring 2.08 goals per game, every little difference is magnified. For reference, the Ducks were averaging 2.42 goals per game through 12 games last season.

While nobody expects Toni Lydman to be contributing to the offense, we do expect guys like Cam Fowler to be scoring. And, to be honest, Cam has been off to a very slow start this season. With only five points in 12 games (all assists), his 0.417 points per game is 20% lower than last season's average of 0.526 points per game. Similarly, Lubo has disappointed thus far. Lubo only has 4 points so far (1 goal and 3 assists) and his drop-off in production is even more dramatic than last year. Lubo's points per game has diminished by more than 60% when compared to last season's career year.

I know it seems ludicrous to be concerned about a one-goal difference, but I think the problem is that we expected the defense-driven to be better this year. Sure, we all knew that Lubo wasn't going to match his 68 points from last season, but Cam seemed primed for a big season and Kurtis Foster was also expected to offer some offense [Ed. Note: He's played two of six games after coming back from IR on October 23rd]. To date, none of that has come to fruition.

The power play is clearly the bigger of these two problems, though they are inherently linked. Many of us have remarked that Lubo doesn't quite look like himself and it's completely possible that he has not fully recovered from his post-season separated shoulders (to which he didn't have surgery).

Ultimately though, things are not as grim as they seem. We're better off right now than we were at the same point last season and it stands to reason that both the PP and the defenseman will work out their issues sooner rather than later. It's become a somewhat common refrain around these parts, but this team is better than they've played. Hopefully they'll be able to harness that raw talent and right the ship.

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