[Ed. Note: Welcome to our first installment of Group Therapy, a weekly discussion of topics most relevant to the devoted Ducks fan. It's like Coffee Talk without coffee and Linda Richmond, but still like buttah!]
With all that has been going on with the Ducks over the course of the last few months there are definitely plenty of hot topics to discuss. So I thought here would be a great place to kick start the conversation and allow all of you fine readers the chance to get your likes and gripes off of your chest! Let’s discuss, shall we?
Line it up!
Bruce Boudreau has shown us some interesting line combinations over the last few weeks. Regardless of the never ending mishmash, it seems as though it must be working. I mean, who can really argue with winning (up until recently)? With the return of Devante Smith-Pelly, it has brought about another flurry of combinations. Since Smelly’s return, or perhaps due to an undisclosed issue, we’ve missed out on some Matt Beleskey and what I found to be a very threatening and successful 3rd line. We’ve all witnessed the Bobby Ryan shuffle under Randy Carlyle and it seems with Boudreau not much will change. Ryan is still one of the first to find a new set of linemates when things begin to look bleak. Whip out your eff bombs and start lining ‘em up – here’s what I’m proposing:
Smith-Pelly – Getzlaf – Perry
Ryan – Koivu – Selanne
Beleskey – Bonino – Cogliano
Blake – Pelley – Hagman
I think the best part of the BB system is that he always rolls 4 lines. This may mean a big 4th line payday, but it adds value to the 7, 8 or more minutes those bottom two lines will see on any given night. Also, something to consider, the Ducks were HOT without one Smelly in the lineup, since he’s returned things haven’t looked as good (2-0-3). Coincidence or an unfortunate stumble?
That trade deadline was a snooze fest, wasn’t it? When it comes down to it, the Ducks may have made the best move in not making ANY big moves at all. Well, I take that back - they made the best and most important move about 3 months ago. Were you disappointed in the lack of swaps at the deadline and more importantly by Anaheim? Realistically, did you want to see someone like Lubomir Visnovsky or Niklas Hagman go? I sure didn’t. That being said, I can’t imagine Bob Murray sits on his hands in the off season. Or, I hope he doesn’t.
Power Play = Dud Play
It’s getting to the point where the Ducks either get this power play figured out, or they might find themselves missing out on key games and victories in the long run. No, wait, that’s exactly what is happening. From Twitter reports, it sounds as though Boudreau is taking matter into his own hands and working with the various units. Or maybe he should continue to inspire the team from the bench and decline a few more opportunities.
Riding Jonas Hiller
It’s not necessarily something I’m thrilled to report, but the fact of the matter is, the Ducks are riding Hiller to the, um, bone. More importantly, he’s responding with style. He’s definitely helping the Ducks to steal some important games and there may be good reason to believe he’ll be the one they call upon for the remainder of the season. The question here is can he do it? Can Hiller respectfully get this team into a playoff position and then carry them far enough into the battlefield to make it seem like it was worth the struggle? I’m certain he’s looking for some redemption of his own after the way the season ended for him on a personal note last February.
Where for art thou, Ryan Getzlaf?
We’ve seen the big guy stumble before, but he’s really hitting a low here lately. 8 goals and 35 assists for 43 points would be a career low for the center. Unfortunately, his low is affecting the likes of others on his line, most notably Corey Perry. We’ve seen Getzlaf show his aggravations before, but for some reason they don’t always have the desired effect. Take last night’s blatant display of frustration for an example. While I’m a firm believer that Perry doesn’t require Getzlaf to be a great and dominating player, at this point it seems as though Getzlaf might actually be holding Perry back and perhaps vice versa. What could possibly be the answer to help Getzlaf to get over this scoring slump and will that same relief be what helps Perry to find his groove again as well? Only time will tell, unfortunately there isn’t much of that left. Ironically, I feel like Getzlaf has actually stepped up his game. He’s hustling more, playing a more physical game and actually shooting the puck. Perhaps he simply needs a lesson in accuracy. If his physicality is a tradeoff for scoring, it might be a fault as the Ducks are in desperate need of goals right now.
Get to it fans, I know you’re an opinionated bunch!