The Week That Was
The first homestand for the Anaheim Ducks can be summed up in a word: frustrating.
After suffering a 2-1 shootout loss in the home opener against the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim was shut out in successive games 4-0 by the Arizona Coyotes, and 3-0 by the Colorado Avalanche. Finally on Sunday the clouds parted with the relief of a first win, a 4-1 triumph over the Minnesota Wild.
What compounded the early irritation is that the Ducks didn't play poorly for the majority of those games. A look at the underlying even strength numbers from the week:
The Ducks had the better shooting metrics in three of the four games, all losses. The Minnesota game is an outlier, but it's also the game where the Ducks had the lead for a significant majority of the game, which feeds in to the score effects.
An area that may be of concern is the percentage of scoring chances (and high danger area scoring chances) to shot attempts ratios. In the four games the Ducks SC/SAT was .37, and .17 for HiSC/SAT, while opponents generated .52 SC/SAT and .22 HiSC/SAT. It speaks to the lack of cohesion along the back end, which will continue to be tested with both Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner on injured reserve. Allowing a scoring chance for every other shot attempted will not cut it, and even with removing the Minnesota game and it's ballooning numbers the SC/SAT actually jumps to .55 though HiSC/SAT falls to .15.
As evidenced by the game against the Wild, goals will come if the Ducks get to the front of the net and clear out some of the shooting lanes. Anaheim had 30.4% of their shot attempts blocked this past week, but in the Wild game that percentage was only 21.4%. Obviously, getting shot attempts actually on net is vital to scoring goals, so look to see if the Ducks can improve on getting better than the 49.2% of shot attempts actually on net in the coming week, while also bringing down the 53.9% of opponent attempts that were on frame and limiting scoring chances.
The Week Ahead
It'll be three days before Anaheim laces the skates up against the Nashville Predators. After that it's a Saturday visit to St. Paul for the second of three games against Minnesota; the final game of the season series against the Wild will be an NBCSN game on January 20 at Honda Center.
The Predators are once again off to a strong start under Peter Laviolette, having won two of a three game road trip last week with wins in New Jersey and Ottawa, suffering their only loss thus far this season against the Islanders. They welcome Tampa Bay tomorrow night in what promises to be an entertaining tilt before facing the Ducks. 15 players have already gotten on the score sheet, with seven different goal scorers. James Neal and fourth year former Wisconsin Badger Craig Smith currently lead the team with three twine-ticklers apiece, while defenseman Roman Josi's three helpers and five points are best on the team. Pekka Rinne is off to a strong start as well, with a .944 save percentage. Check in on the Predators at On The Forecheck.
Minnesota is an eminently familiar commodity now having seen the Ducks knock them off last night. The folks at Hockey Wilderness are concerned about the amount of ice time defenseman Ryan Suter, wanting to keep the numbers lower than previous seasons and allow more of a role for the other younger defensemen. Their game story from the Ducks 4-1 win points out Anaheim feasting on the Vanek-Coyle-Fontaine line for all three of their non-empty net goals, while the top line of Zucker-Koivu-Niederreiter continues to be an absolute monster possession-wise for the club. It speaks well that the Ducks were able to survive and come away with the win it what the HW folks are calling the most complete effort from Minnesota thus far this year, but also highlights the continued need for improvement when the two teams square off this weekend.
5-on-5 stats via War-On-Ice