I’m taking a different approach for this week’s post. As of this writing (as per usual, before our Friday night game—this week against the hated Red Wings), the Ducks have played exactly 25% of their schedule and stand at 9-2-1. In recognition of that fact, I wanted to go through and identify those players that have done the most (and the least) to help us to our blistering start.
First up is the offense:
Honorable Mention—Bobby Ryan
By just about any measure, Saku Koivu has been our best player. He’s second on the team in points (13), leads in points per 60 minutes (4.23), and has just been an overall stud. Koivu is tied for second in goals with four and is a team-leading plus-11 (!!!) [Ed. Note: Second in the league behind only Eric Staal. -CK]. While his faceoff percentage is under 50% this year, he’s often been charged with the toughest defensive assignments on the team (only two players have started in the defensive zone less often than Koivu’s 39.8%). Extrapolated out to a full 82-game season, Koivu is on pace for 89 points and 27 goals. Not bad for a guy that was supposed to be in the bottom six this year.
As for Bobby as my honorable mention, it’s simply because he’s nearly a point-per-game AND is playing a better overall defensive game. Teemu is probably the expected pick here, but after struggling out of the gate, Bobby has managed his new center assignment quite well and is playing a better overall game than he ever has.
Honorable Mention—Brad Staubitz
This was close, simply because I fucking hate Brad Staubitz (seriously, dude has more PIM than he does actual accumulated TOI). But Perry wins this because he’s been awful, and he’s supposed to be the guy leading the way for the Ducks. Fair or not, expectations have a lot to do with the way we judge players, and I don’t think anyone can begin to defend Perry’s play this season. Among forwards, Perry ranks tenth (!!!!) in points per 60 minutes with a miserable 1.66. The same man who put up 87 goals in the past two seasons has put up one through 12 games. Some of this can be attributed to a career-worst 3.6 shooting percentage, but some of it can also be attributed to the fact that he’s averaged only 2.33 shots per game this season, more than a full shot per game lower than his average last season (3.46). Whether it’s the pressure of a contract year or not, Perry has just been bad. And he’s supposed to be our best forward.
As for Stabuitz, I don’t think I really need to address this. It speaks for itself.
And now the defense:
Honorable Mention—Francois Beauchemin
I extolled Souray’s virtues last week, and while he doesn’t have a point since then, his play has still been outstanding. He’s been remarkably more effective than I had any reason to expect, and he’s currently on a pace to score 48 points this season, which would have easily outperformed any Ducks defensemen last season. His 17.4% shooting rate is probably unsustainable, but man is it ever fun to watch everyone scatter when he winds up for a shot.
Beauch has also been a stud, forming a strong shutdown pair with Souray. Beauch’s six points in 12 games are second-best among the team’s blue-liners and there’s no denying how great his overall play has been. Murray still should have never let him go in the first place, but getting him back was something this team desperately needed.
I actually though I had an answer for this in Bryan Allen, but he’s played better recently. While Souray, Beauch, and Fowler have all been nails, the rest of the defense corps has been partially good and bad. Sbisa and Lydman have had their struggles, but both have also had flashes of brilliance. It’s probably too easy to make any definitive judgments about Ben Lovejoy, and even Jordan Hendry’s stop-gap work has been better than expected.
Ultimately, that’s a great thing. And it’s not something we’ve been able to say in some time.
Most Surprising—Viktor Fasth
Honorable Mention—Daniel Winnik
Can you really argue with the season Fasth has put together? He’s a perfect 6-0, with a sparkling 0.933 save percentage and 1.74 goals against average. When Fasth was signed to a one year, $1 million contract, the general reaction was "meh." We knew that he had won the best goalie award in the Swedish Elite League over the past two years, but success abroad does not always translate to success in the NHL. Luckily for Anaheim so far, it has.
When Winnik was signed, I assumed he was going to be our 4C and I was also pretty unimpressed. And man, was I ever wrong. While Winnik’s scoring touch has fizzled of late (he still leads the team with five goals), the man is a monster on the forecheck. It’s almost like he throws bombs into defenses and just causes chaos. It’s a glorious thing to watch, and even if it doesn’t always translate to goals, it’s a hell of a lot more pressure than most third lines can claim.