I’m an optimist. I’ll admit it. So all you cynics out there take a seat and let me spew rainbows until I’m done and then you can “well actually” me all you want. That’s why I always start a Best & Worst article with a good thing.
Best: First 40 minutes
That graph paints a pretty good picture of how the Ducks controlled much of the play throughout the first 2 periods and some change. The Ducks generated inordinate amounts of odd-man rushes and dangerous scoring chances. Without the machine that was Antti Niemi, the game could’ve easily been 3-0 by the end of the 1st period. This is the team that went on a three game win streak and is a squad more than capable of making a deep Stanley Cup Playoff run. The skill and execution is there. It’s in the numbers.
Worst: 3rd is the new 2nd
It appears that the 3rd period is becoming the new 2nd Period Experience™. Between the improved middle frames and the ugly final frames like last night and against Calgary a week ago, the Ducks appear to be slipping in their ability to shut down games in the 3rd. Anaheim entered tonight allowing the fewest 3rd period goals in the league (including the Calgary meltdown) with 15. That is obviously no longer the case with the five consecutive goals allowed in the 3rd against Dallas. They’ll have to right the ship in a hurry to keep pace in the playoff race.
Best: The top line has arisen
The number one forward line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Rickard Rakell finally seems to be running on all cylinders. Obviously Rakell was never an issue, but the Twins now have 9 points in the last 5 games. Perry in particular is feeling the ketchup flowing as he has run his point streak to a season-high 6 games with 8 points (3g, 5a) in that span.
Worst: A team of many hats
It’s tough to pin down exactly who this team is. There are stretches where they will go two or three games controlling play and producing results while completely imploding in between these times. They waffle back and forth between Stanley Cup contender and Nolan Patrick bound. The Ducks are going to have to figure out what they are soon as the halfway point of the season is beginning to creep up, and with each passing day the playoff picture gets clearer and clearer. There’s still plenty of time to lock down and firmly stake a spot in the playoffs race, however, so it’s not time to panic. Yet...
3) Ryan Getzlaf
2) Jamie Benn
1) Antti Niemi