I'm normally an optimistic guy but I think this is the loss that pushes me over the edge. Up until now, I was trying to cling to some hope that things could turn around. Be it bounces, or track records, or a new coach, I thought that there was wiggle room for the Ducks to make something of this season.
Once again, the Ducks lost to a team that I just can't stand losing to. Though the final was 3-2, the Predators controlled much of the game. Nashville overcame the frustration of having two goals called back and found a way to persevere. The Ducks, incredulous at the penalty to Brandon McMillan for tapping Jordin Tootoo in the stomach, collapsed in the third period.
It just sucked. There were some positives, sure. But I've never felt in my years of writing at AC that doing this was a chore. Tonight, it feels that way.The Good
- The third and fourth lines played their asses off tonight. Andrew Gordon scored the first goal of the game on a great feed from Brandon McMillan and both Nicklas Hagman and Maxime Macenaeur put in standout efforts. I really wish some of our other players would work as hard as our bottom-six did tonight. There are a lot of reasons why the Ducks lost tonight, but the third and fourth lines should be rightfully lauded for their efforts.
- Dan Ellis played a pretty good game. I don't think he gave up any particularly soft goals, and he made some fantastic saves in the first period, including a sprawling dive to deny David Legwand. He looked solid in net tonight and he turned away 25 Nashville shots. It's probably worth giving him some more playing time at this point to build his trade value and flip him to a contender.
- Teemu Selanne continues to find ways to get it done. The Finnish Flash recorded his 900th career point in an Anaheim sweater tonight and I shudder to think what this season would be like without him. I feel terrible for Teemu, because he seems to be one of the only guys that gives a damn right now. I can't imagine how frustrated he must be, and yet he still brings it every night. Truly a class act.
- The Bobby Ryan as a center experiment seemed to go OK tonight. Bobby finished with a 42.9% winning percentage in the dot (best among Ducks centers, more on that later) and generally played a good game. He did only register one SOG, but his line with Selanne and Andrew Cogliano generated chances. Overall, I thought Bobby was more engaged and he seemed to take his defensive responsibilities seriously. I wasn't wild about his decision to fight Mike Fisher after the third goal, but I understood he was trying to give the team a spark.
- Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry need to figure things out. I know playing with Kyle Palmieri didn't help (more on that later), but they have to find a way to contribute. These guys are supposed to be the leaders of the team. I'm not exactly sure what's happened to them, but they're spending so much time in their own end when they're on the ice and they're just not generating many chances. To make things worse, both Perry and Getzlaf each had a prime scoring opportunity tonight that they failed to convert. I'm not sure where things go from here with these two, but something has to happen. They need to be better.
- The power play just looks lost right now. Bobby isn't the right guy to man the point and when the Ducks were able to get set-up with the man advantage tonight. They made a lot of cross-ice passes without throwing the puck at the net. I once again feel like they're trying so hard to make that perfect play, and it's just not panning out. The Ducks only managed 3 shots in their 4 minutes of PP time.
- Team defense was once again sketchy when it mattered most. The first and third goals were the result of some pretty soft defensive play and there were many other chances where defensemen pinched and created odd-man rushes for the Predators. Aside from Francois Beauchemin, nobody looks like they have a clue on defense right now, although Nate Guenin made a few heady plays. I really didn't come into the season thinking the D would be so bad, but clearly it is.
- That's not the way to convince anybody to keep you on the NHL roster, Kyle Palmieri. When he wasn't releasing shots from just inside the blue line, Palmieri was indecisive at best with the puck, constantly looking to Perry and Getzlaf for guidance. I understand that Kyle probably wanted to work with the twins and complement their game as much as possible, but his inability to make any decisions on his own ultimately derailed that line for much of the night. After seeing his play tonight, I really wonder how he's managed to tear up the AHL. [Ed. Note: Palmieri started the night on left wing - his off wing. After struggling a few shifts, he switched wings with Perry, and still looked lost. He'd make great trade-bait. Just sayin'.]
- Remember when I said that Bobby led all Anaheim centers with a 42.9 winning percentage on faceoffs? Anaheim only won 17 of the 48 draws tonight for a ghastly 35% winning percentage. Aside from Ryan, Anaheim's centers finished at 36.8% (Getzlaf), 25% (McMillan), and 16.7% (Macenauer). No matter how you slice it, that's ugly.
- The "slashing" call on Brandon McMillan was an absolute farce. I don't even know how the most partisan Nasvhille fan could defend Jordin Tootoo's actions on the play. I can't find a video, but Tootoo basically took a run at McMillan and took his legs out from under him. No call. McMillan and Tootoo exchanged words before McMillan gave Tootoo a tap to the abs that wouldn't have knocked over my one year-old son. Tootoo, as is his MO, sold the call like he'd been punched in the stomach. Even after Tootoo backed off because he realized he looked foolish, McMillan was still penalized. If anyone has the video, please post it. It was that absurd. And, predictably, the Predators scored on the ensuing PP to take a lead that they would not relinquish. In a season of disappointment, the McMillan penalty was just rubbing salt in the wound. I'm not sure what Corey Perry sacrificed to win the Hart last season, but the hockey gods seem to be taking their pound of flesh.