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The Defense Is Bad And I Feel Bad: Ducks Lose 6-4 in San Jose

The Ducks inexperience on defense and dreadful work ethic through the first half of the game were too much to overcome as a late comeback fell short and the Ducks fell 6-4 to the San Jose Sharks.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports


Oh dear I actually have to recap this travesty. Well here this goes.

First Period:

One of the keys to this game listed on the pre-game broadcast would be to start fast and get on top of the San Jose Sharks early. So what did the Anaheim Ducks do? Exactly not that.

The Sharks entered this game having lost four straight, leaving them on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, and with the stakes turned up for a rivalry game, they came out swinging against an Anaheim team that may as well have still been in bed after getting run ragged the day before. And not to mention Bruce Boudreau decided today was apparently a great day to try his "screw it I'm deciding these with ping pong balls" lines, as the starters included Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Maroon, and Kyle Palmieri.

San Jose came out of the gate swinging and registered seven of the first 11 shots on goal, thanks largely to a high number of defensive turnovers from the young Anaheim defense that almost immediately looked very out of sync.

Within minutes Brent Burns rang a point shot off the post; an unfortunate warning shot for what was to come.

Not long after Logan Couture opened the scoring after a puck pinballed off of a few Ducks in the slot right on the stick of Couture who was all alone waiting to the side. Not really one you could blame any one particular player for, and certainly not Frederik Andersen either as he was pretty much entirely at the mercy of his team being unable to control the puck. But nonetheless Couture continues to be a Duck killer who now has goals in________ meetings between these two teams. 1-0 Sharks.

It didn't last long however. Despite the run of play almost entirely favoring the Sharks, the Ducks got a break barely over a minute later when Hampus Lindholm's shot deflected off Matt Beleskey's shin and into the net past Antti Niemi's five-hole. Beleskey now has 11 goals on the season and trails only Corey Perry for the team lead.

Not long after that the Ducks would actually get a power play chance early, but in truly embarrassing fashion they pretty much screwed themselves over. Hampus Lindholm failed to control a puck passed back to him at the point and then lost his footing, allowing Logan Couture a shorthanded breakaway with all the time in the world and no pressure. Surprise! He buried it. 2-0 Sharks on the second shorthanded goal the Ducks have allowed in their last seven games. Depressing fact: over that same span the Ducks power play has scored only two goals of its own, both coming in the overtime loss to Calgary.

And things would only get worse from there. As San Jose continued to pile on the pressure and rack up the shot attempts, Jakob Silfverberg would head to the box for an inadvertent high sticking penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Sharks would make it 3-0 before the Ducks could escape to the locker room. Joe Thornton walked the puck out of the corner, and rather than being pressured, everyone backed away from him, allowing him to zip a pass through the crease to a wide open Joe Pavelski, whom it looked like everyone on the ice in white had forgotten he was even in the building. An absolutely dreadful penalty killing sequence put a big dagger in the Anaheim morale and the Ducks skated to the locker room outshot 14-5 and trailing 3-1.

Second Period:

Whatever Boudreau said in the locker room didn't do jack. San Jose jumped right back on the horse and continued to bury the Ducks deeper and deeper in a hole they just didn't appear to have any intentions of climbing out of.

An early lost faceoff went back to the point where Patrick Marleau hammered a shot that Tommy Wingels got a tip on, fooling Andersen and putting the Sharks up 4-1. Not even three minutes into the period.

And it got worse. Yes. I'm serious.

Josh Manson failed to move the puck in time and coughed it up to the side boards where literally NOBODY in white was anywhere near it. Tomas Hertl picked it up, walked to the front of the net, and flipped it over a helpless Andersen. Abysmal turnover to literally nobody and the Sharks had a 5-1 lead. AT THE 6:09 MARK OF THE SECOND PERIOD. Are you sick yet?

At this point Jason LaBarbara came in to relieve Frederik Andersen, who in his defense had zero help the entire night.

And at this point the Sharks appeared to say "okay that's enough" and begun to slow down a bit.

And then Anaheim took over and started peppering the San Jose net with pucks.

It took a while but the Ducks got a rush up ice with speed, and the re-united twins of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry linked up with a perfect give-and-go that Perry tapped past a helpless Antti Niemi to make it 5-2. Want to know what that meant to the Ducks? Look at their celebration. It took so long for them to get together that the Sharks announcers actually didn't realize they had scored. It almost meant nothing.

But late goals can tend to be momentum swingers, and the Ducks left for the dressing room trailing by only three. Remarkably, the Ducks also had a 14-12 shot advantage over the Sharks that period.

Third Period:

Remember the Winnipeg Jets game at Honda Center last season? Remember how a goal late in the second period and again early in the third got the team to believe?

Well that's kind of what happened yet again as Perry would notch his second of the game less than a minute into the frame. After the Sharks turned the puck over at the blue line to Ryan Getzlaf, the captain's wrister to the net was tipped by the Ducks goal scoring machine for his second of the night. Suddenly it was 5-3 and things started to seem interesting.

Four minutes later, the Captain would score a goal of his own, capitalizing on a giveaway in the defensive zone from the Sharks defense. Getzlaf turned around, walked to the side of the net, and buried a powerful backhander right in the top corner short side to really make things interesting at 5-4.

The Ducks would continue to pour on the pressure and make things interesting all the way down to the wire, but the resiliency of the San Jose Sharks proved to be to much. That and the Ducks rapidly degrading discipline would once again prove to be a problem.

A hooking penalty by Rene Borque and an interference penalty from Ryan Kesler both did their part killing the Ducks momentum, and the Ducks themselves would fail on a late power play chance.

However, the biggest scar of the game in terms of penalties would come very late as Tommy Wingels would recover a puck and Josh Manson was once again caught scrambling to recover. However, as Wingels beared down on the net, he cut in front of an official who was backing away from the play, and set an inadvertent screen on Manson, causing him to lose a step. Manson was then forced to reach out and locked his stick inside on Wingels, a play which the back referee would designate a hooking penalty and to say this one was marginal is giving it a huge amount of credit. That call was awful. Downright abysmal by beer league standards.

Edit: Here. You be the judge.

Sticktap to PuqOT for his effort making this.

So with barely over two minutes remaining the Ducks had to kill their fifth penalty of the night. Late on, the Ducks got possession and sent LaBarbara to the bench for the extra attacker to try to even the playing field, but the Ducks turned the puck over and Matt Nieto easily buried an empty netter to seal the game.

A decent comeback effort and some good resiliency from the Ducks top line, but ultimately fell short as the Ducks lose their second straight 6-2.

The Good:

The Captain and his sidekick goal machine got it going again. Two goals for Corey Perry and an assist. A goal and two helpers for Getzlaf. A big deal was made during the pregame show about how those two are truly the lifeblood of the team. When they're not scoring, the team doesn't play well. Tonight, they got off their collective slide in a good way, racking up three points each. Good leadership and resiliency from the team's leaders after they've been virtually invisible the last few games.

The Bad:

Puck possession. Eleven Anaheim giveaways. Eight San Jose takeaways. That's 19 turnovers for the Ducks. Three Ducks had a positive 5v5 Fenwick rating on the night, demonstrating just how badly this team got run all over the ice, even when they were supposedly mounting their comeback.

The Ugly:

To say this team's defense is bad is giving it too much credit. And it's more than just the guys on the blue line. Don't get me wrong when only Sami Vatanen is positive in Fenwick on the night (+1) they're still not off the hook in terms of their ability keep pucks away from the Anaheim net and down in the other end.

However, the forwards were absolutely abysmal in terms of contribution to the defensive effort tonight too. Ryan Kesler? MINUS-12. Jakob Sifverberg? Minus-7. Rene Borque? Minus-6. These guys were getting run ragged around their own zone all night and did very little to slow the rolling Sharks offense.

New guy Eric Brewer was pretty inconspicuous in his debut and came pretty much exactly as advertised. Minus-3 Fenwick on the night. Mat Clark was a minus-9. Hampus Lindholm was a minus-5. These are the downsides to the speedy, smooth-skating defenses: they can only do so much if they can't keep the puck away from their goalie and out of their own net.

The first half of this hockey game was one of the worst team defensive efforts I have seen in years. Is it mental preparation? That has to be part of it. You have to know San Jose, a team already underachieving with a large amount of offensive firepower, is going to get up for a big rivalry game with a chance to gain ground in the division. And they did. And the Ducks were nowhere to be found. Five goals against in under half a game. Despicable.

3rd Icehole: The officiating. Yeah yeah copout pick... whatever. The Ducks didn't lose because of that bad call. They lost because they surrendered the GWG with more than half the game still to play. However, that ticky-tack call against Josh Manson at the end was downright terrible and it cost the Ducks an opportunity to perhaps make things even more interesting.

2nd Icehole: Ryan Kesler. Virtually invisible the entire game due in large part to a -10 Corsi and -12 Fenwick on the night. Basically he spent the entire game chasing the puck around his own end and failing to keep pucks away from the Anaheim net. Sorry dude. Doghouse.

1st Icehole: The entire defense. I think I've done enough ripping on them for now but good lord that was atrocious. Mat Clark was -10 Corsi. Josh Manson was even but committed the egregious turnover that led to the GWG. Nobody seemed to have any idea how to cover anybody the entire night. And I think it's pretty apparent that Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen, while good players, are not the best at playing shut-down defense. Help us Ben Lovejoy! You're our only hope!

Next Game: Monday Dec. 1st vs. Boston Bruins