The weirdness began when it came out early in the day that Anton Khudobin would be getting the first start of the Anaheim Ducks five-game road trip. Then as things started to slip away in the second period, out came the line blender and even the broadcast team noted the flailing at finding anything even remotely resembling chemistry. The end result? An ugly loss to start the Central Division swing. On to the Best and Worst of of the Ducks at Nashville Predators:
Worst: The Terrible Twos
Stop me if you've heard this before, but Ducks, your second period, woof! Outshot by more than double (13-6), out-attempted (22-13 all situations), and out-scoring chanced (10-2 all situations). This was cute last season when Anaheim had the firepower to come back in the third period, but all those shouts of "Unsustainable!" are bearing out now that the Ducks offense is drier than many California lakes.
When's that El Niño rainfall supposed to start rolling through?
Worst: So, Just Gonna Let That Happen Eh?
If there was one moment in the night that symbolized the lack of early season fight for the Ducks, this was it. The Captain gets lit up by a 23-year old in his tenth ever NHL game, and the response is a resounding *shrug*. This after he makes the play in the neutral zone that leads to Nashville's first goal; two big plays by the rookie and Anaheim can't muster a response to at least 'let him know you're there'.
Best: Signs (Ever So Slight) Of Power In Extra Man Play
This is about a minuscule a 'Best' as possible, but Jiri Sekac scored a power play goal and Ryan Kesler picked up his first point of the season. And there was much rejoicing!
Worst: Goalie Startings In Nashville For Make Benefit Glorious Hope Of Ducks Win Streak
The decision to start Khudobin was what it was, Boudreau looking for a spark and trying to continue whatever good fortune the team had in their win against Minnesota on Sunday. It didn't work, and a couple technical gaffes lead to two of the three second period goals. Getting caught too deep when going post-to-post so that the right skate got stuck in the net and the butterfly wasn't sealed flush to the ice, and leaving the near post playing pass to get beaten short-side along the ice.
Not shouldering the blame on Khudobin fully for both goals though. After all, how do four players get caught below the face off dots in the defensive zone after killing off a penalty and allowing Ryan Ellis to tee up from the near side dot? And why is noted Duck-killer Mike Ribeiro left all alone to try a slap pass then retrieve the ricochet back without so much as attempting to mark him?
Worst: Out Of Touch, Out Of Reach
With all the early season hysteria it means more media smoke about Boudreau's job security, and continued kick-around of the return of Randy Carlyle. We've already covered how the three previous times post-1967 that Cup winning coaches returned to the teams they lead to titles all had losing playoff records in their second go-around.
Considering a main reason why Randy got the boot in the first place (aside from perpetual poor starts and winning one of his final four playoff series in Anaheim) was his poor relationship with Getzlaf and Perry, how exactly is bringing him back supposed to shake the Twins from their scoring doldrums? Lest we forget as well Carlyle's handling of younger players; you think it's frustrating how Rickard Rakell has been treated by Boudreau?
3) Pekka Rinne
27 saves, a couple nice stops on Perry, but was hardly tested seriously with any consistency.
2) Austin Watson
His assist on Eric Nystrom's goal opened the offensive floodgates, and his hit on Getzlaf showed the Predators wouldn't receive much in the way of physical retribution.
1) Ryan Ellis
Game winning goal, and two assists to better Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, and Mike Santorelli's Anaheim season-high two points in one night. Yep, that's about how it's going so far this year.