Tape-to-tape. That's how passes should be in order to maximize efficiency and minimize turnover risk.
Maybe it's just me but this season Anaheim looks allergic to tape, especially during passing attempts.
From the early goings of the game the Ducks just didn't look like they were gelling very well with so many passes catching linemates unaware, or worse, the puck was passed behind or into the feet of the intended recipient. However, despite the perpetual plague of poor passing, Anaheim looked like they were willing to fight for the two points to start the uphill battle in the standings.
The team looked like they were trying to help goaltender Frederik Andersen get his first win of the season, as at the first intermission, the Ducks lead the Blues in shots on goal 12-10 as well as a 6-3 lead in blocked shots.
The second period started off strong with Hampus Lindholm scoring a gritty power play goal, tallying his second goal of the year just past the 2:30 mark into the middle frame. Assists were given to Corey Perry and Kevin Bieksa in the opening goal of the night. Yet the elation was be cut short, with none other than Vladimir Tarasenko holding the scissors and doing said cutting.
Anaheim got caught attempting an all-in offensive play with blue liner Cam Fowler jumping up into the attack alongside the three forwards in a scoring attempt that was ultimately thwarted by a pass into the skates. Meanwhile second defenseman Korbinian Holzer returned to the bench to replace a broken stick, leaving two Blues skaters alone in the neutral zone. St. Louis managed a tape-to-tape breakout pass leaving Andersen completely alone, and after a short give-and-go, Tarasenko snapped a flawless one-timer hitting nothing but net.
Before the midway mark of the second period, Chris Wagner fell victim to a hard hit by veteran Steve Ott, who stuck around for a few extra seconds which caught the attention of surrounding Anaheim players including Holzer and Patrick Maroon, who, after a confusingly dogpile-esque scrap, both end up in the penalty box while only one penalty is assessed to the Blues.
I'd like to take this opportunity and say that it's nice to see that Anaheim does have some physical spark still. The team has not been physically wearing out opponents like they did so much last season through always finishing checks and making the gritty plays work, but when one of their own gets a little extra roughed up while down on the ice, these guys will spring to action and attempt to defend their own. Now if only they could play the rest of the game with that sort of passion and fire.
Before the second period came to a close, Shawn Horcoff ended up delivering a highlight-reel hit when he flat out bulldozed Tarasenko, which sparked some serious tempers in shifts to follow. Ott and Perry ended up dropping the gloves for a mediocre fight with each player landing a couple solid punches, but Perry was assessed an extra two minute minor for the play before the mitts were shed. Anaheim managed to kill off another penalty, keeping the score tied at one after two periods.
Aside from one penalty assessed to each team, the only other mark seen on the scoreboard during the third period is a St. Louis goal by Colton Parayko just over the halfway mark of the closing frame. Parayko simply threw the puck into the general vicinity of the net, however the puck proceeded to bounce off the boards, hit Andersen's skate redirecting it into the open net behind him.
The scoreboard ticked down to the 0:00 mark, closing out regulation with the score of 2-1 holding strong giving Anaheim yet another regulation loss, and keeping the St. Louis Blues undefeated in their home arena.
Of the two goalies, Freddie clearly had the better night, stopping 32 of 34 shots, and had one of those shots not been partially made of flubber and bounced all over the place and eventually into the net, that goal might not have even registered as a shot on net. In the opposite crease Allen made 22 saves on 23 shots, with the lone goal against coming on an Anaheim power play. Meanwhile, Anaheim's penalty kill held the Blues scoreless on five power play opportunities, limiting them to only four power play shots on goal.
Alas, Anaheim's painful road trip through Central Division teams comes to a very necessary conclusion with the Ducks returning home to host the Nashville Predators on Sunday evening at Honda Center.