I was going to do something witty like "10 Reasons Why I Hate the Sharks" but after the beating we took on Wednesday night, it hardly seems appropriate. It's hard to exude machismo when your team was on the wrong side of such a lopsided loss, despite playing some of its best players. Instead, I want to take a closer look at our struggles in the first two games.
Through the first two games, the Ducks have been outscored 13-5 and have been outshot by a combined 65-50 margin. Through these two games, the only skaters with a plus rating are Sheldon Brookbank, Matt Smaby, Andrew Gordon, Andrew Cogliano, and Jake Newton. Everyone else is either a net zero or negative (with most of them being negative). Taken together, we can make a few conclusions:
- We're not shooting the puck nearly enough. An average of 25 shots per game is not going to cut it (although last year's average was 28.5), especially in the preseason where guys should be trying to find the score sheet to solidify their jobs.
- The dearth of plus players shows that San Jose and Phoenix didn't pick on one or two lines-everyone struggled. What's particularly interesting is that only two forwards have a positive rating while three defenseman do. The defense has looked suspect in the first two games, but it's entirely possible that our forwards are just as (if not more) responsible for the volume of rubber headed at the cage than our defenseman.
- The goalies have also struggled mightily. The good thing is that we probably won't see any of these goalies during the regular season (with the possible exception of Jeff Deslauriers). The bad thing is that many of the goals have been off rebounds, something that I personally believe Jonas is going to struggle with as he gets his mojo back. I suppose this bleeds back into the defensive play, but we're going to need some guys who can clean up the loose change, otherwise it's going to be a very, very long year.
The final lineup has not been released; however the Ducks official game preview listed the players that are available to Randy Carlyle tonight. Jonas Hiller will be held off the ice in favor of giving his back up, Dan Ellis, his first start of the pre-season. Ellis will be backed up by Deslauriers.
Since none of will be able to watch the game (and I may or may not be able to listen to it), I'm hoping for a closer shot margin in tonight's affair and a better distribution of plus/minus.
At least it's still September. Go Ducks.