*Sigh*. One of these days, I'm really hoping that one of these previews begin with a positive outlook. This season has been rough, to say the least. Just a freakin roller coaster with a hell of a lot more plunges than ups. We are nearing closer and closer to the holiday break--really the halfway marker of the season.
The Ducks are heading into New York City after a real lackluster loss in Brooklyn. At MSG, two very frustrated teams will meet on the ice, each seeking to find some footing in this match-up.
Ducks: Monday, 12/21/15 vs New York Islanders. "Ducks struggle to find consistency, lose 5-2 against Islanders."
Where do we even begin....
This road trip was supposed to be redeeming. The Ducks looked to be playing better despite the concerns of the lack of scoring, but the road trip has shown up that nothing really has changed. In fact, as we approach the mid-season holiday break point, the Ducks are truly in trouble. They are currently sitting in LAST in the Pacific Division and LAST in the Western Conference. That's pretty embarrassing for a team that was one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last year, not to mention boasting a roster with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler.
We can all sit around and point figures at individuals that might take part of the blame of what is turning the season into a disaster. But what's the use? Bob Murray built this team, Bruce Boudreau coaches this team, and the players play the games for this team. The truth is, the Ducks are just not playing good hockey. The game against the Islanders exhibited a couple of no-no's in hockey 101:
2) Lack of discipline
3) Too many perimeter shots and not enough penetration attributing to low offensive chances
3) All around chaos with goaltender switching, line swapping, tempers flaring
We really don't need to keep going on and on. You watched the games. You get the picture. No consistency. And no solution at this point. We can write for days on the problems of this Anaheim club, but it really is on the coach and the players to start playing fundamental hockey and find chemistry between players.
Carl Hagelin will be returning to MSG after playing with the Rangers for the past four season. It should be interesting who Boudreau decides to go with in net as Frederik Andersen was pulled after allowing 3 goals on 11 shots.
The Rangers were another team that had been projected pre-season to come back out of the east as one of the top contenders for a Stanley Cup run. Unfortunately, it hasn't been looking all to great as of late for the Blueshirts. At the very least, they still remain ahead in the Metropolitan division at 2nd place, but the more recent appearances have caused concern. The recent "implosions" and "disasters" of the Rangers are eliciting a pretty similar reaction to Anaheim fans who are also suffering from a lack of consistency. Many fingers are being pointed, to coach Alain Vigneault, to veteran players that really should be performing on a nightly basis. Same story being told in New York as in Anaheim.
So enter two teams struggling to find consistency and identity. I mean folks, these are two teams that are mirror images of one another, one from the West, one from the East, all except for the fact that the latter is actually in the playoff running (Womp womp). Vigneault is taking a page out Boudreau's book and pulling the old switcheroo of lines to see if a spark can be lit. Many fingers are being pointed at the top line as lacking production (which is also happening in Anaheim). There are some obvious defensive deficiencies and specific defensemen have drawn scorn.
Henrik Lundqvist has allowed 5 goals in 24 shots in the game against the Capitals, and has allowed 4 or more shots in 4 of his past 5 starts. Kevin Klein will possibly return to the lineup after suffering from an oblique injury. Magnus Hellberg remains back-up to Lundqvist while Antti Raanta sits out after taking a puck to the mask during the Minnesota Wild game.
So here we are... Two teams that are falling way short of expectations. Two teams that are very much in need of a morale booster and a foundation on which to find consistency.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.