The Ducks wrapped up their homestand with a lackluster performance against a relatively unfamiliar foe, and now find themselves five points out of a playoff spot.
Best: Decent Possession Game
I was pretty surprised when I looked at this chart after the game. My eyes told me the Ducks deserved to lose, and a three-goal margin seemed about right. This shot attempt chart (from war-on-ice) tells a different story. Even before score effect took over in the third period, the Ducks were neck-and-neck with the Islanders.
I can try to explain part of this by recalling a few instances where Duck players shot the puck from severe angles or from far away (a few such shots by Jakob Silfverberg and Chris Stewart come to mind). Perhaps this 60-minute sample is skewed by a larger-than-usual amount of non-dangerous shot attempts. And perhaps my outlook on the game turned pessimistic enough to bias me against the Ducks having a decent game.
So I'm curious. Did anyone else think the Ducks played as well as this chart indicates?
Worst: Zone Exits
There were a lot of bad things I (or any somewhat knowledgeable observer) could point out about the way the Ducks played this game. One that stood out to me was zone exits, or rather attempted zone exits. Up until the last half of the third period when New York reigned in their forecheck, the Ducks had an enormous amount of trouble getting the puck out of their zone and into neutral ice. The shifts leading up to, and including, the Clutterbuck goal included some of the most egregious examples of this.
Best: Perry's 301st
Here he is passing Paul Kariya on the franchise goal scoring list.
156 goals now stand between Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. As crazy as it sounds, Perry could easily overtake the Finnish Flash within five seasons, fewer if he ages well.
Worst: The Standings
Those four straight wins put the Ducks back into the playoff conversation, but after Friday's loss, they now sit five points out of the division's top three. Historically, five points is bigger than it seems, and anyone rooting for the Ducks who doesn't think the word "desperate" applies to this situation doesn't understand how tough it is to claw back from that kind of deficit, especially with all the three-point overtime games that are going to happen between now and April.
Worst: Offensive Depth
The Getzlaf-Perry-Rakell line didn't score at even strength, but they played like a legitimate NHL first line. (Which they damn well better have.) None of the other lines looked anything like a second, third, or fourth line on a good team. Ryan Kesler made a few good plays, but he was flanked by Stewart and Patrick Maroon, and that went about as well as you'd expect. Clearly, Rakell needs to jump down in the depth chart, which is a shame because he would be a great fit on that top line. So scratch that.
Worst: Missed Opportunities
Silfverberg had an almost wide open net in the second period, but he couldn't lift the puck over the right pad of backup goalie Thomas Greiss. It would be unfair to pin a sixty-minute loss on one play or one player, but when your team is struggling to generate offense, you have to bury those.
3) Adam Pelech
Shoutout to the 21 year-old Toronto native who made his NHL debut for the Islanders, playing 13:19 on defense.
2) Johnny Boychuk
The Ducks broadcast compared his shot to that of Shea Weber, which is probably giving him more credit than he deserves, but not by much. Boychuk shoots hard and he shoots often. His assist on Clutterbuck's goal was the simple and effective slap shot from the point that has made him such a well-respected defenseman over the years.
1) The Islanders' Second Line
Frans Nielsen, the all-time leading Danish scorer in NHL history, added two more goals to his resume, each of them the end product of a beautiful rush. Linemates Josh Bailey and Anders Lee assisted on both goals, and both of Lee's passes were very impressive.