Worst: Learn a Little Respect
The four worst possession teams in the NHL this season are the Arizona Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks, the New Jersey Devils, and the Colorado Avalanche. The Ducks, currently the 3rd best possession team in the league, have lost to three of the four teams on that list, including now getting shutout twice by the worst of the bunch, Colorado.
Anaheim got completely suckered into Colorado's trap. The entire team fell asleep at the wheel in terms of being prepared for transitioning from offense to defense, and Colorado's superior foot speed lead to numerous odd-man rushes, particularly in yet another terrible second period.
It looked as though Anaheim went into this game in cruise control mode, and Colorado jumped on them. Even though Anaheim carried a decided possession advantage in the game, they far less dangerous offensively than Colorado was all night long. Despite a 5-on-5 Shot Attempt For number that nearly doubled Colorado, Anaheim was only able to manage about 19% of their attempts as high-danger chances. Colorado on the other hand, nearly 26%. To boil that down, approximately one of every four shot attempts for Colorado was a high-danger scoring chance.
Anaheim clearly had very little respect for the speed Colorado possesses, did not take their opponent seriously, and paid a serious price as a result.
Best: Perhaps This is a Good Thing
It's been a while since the Ducks lost in regulation. In fact, over a month. Anaheim's last regulation loss came on February 8th when they were blown apart by the Pittsburgh Penguins, another speedy, opportunistic team. When you keep winning, it's easy to overlook a lot of the little bad habits that can creep back into your game.
Yet towards the end of that point streak Anaheim was finding ways to win despite playing some downright awful games. They were out-shot and badly out-attempted by the Arizona Coyotes in their last meeting, and won big purely because of poor goaltending. They were unbelievably lucky to escape the game against Montreal with both points, narrowly hanging on for a shootout win despite being badly outplayed and outworked. They also pulled a straight up heist of two points in Los Angeles with the Kings more or less putting the Ducks net under siege the entire second half of the game.
In fact, you could really argue that the last really truly solid winning effort the Ducks have put out was their February 28th win at home against the Kings. (Keyword being winning; they actually played excellent against the Washington Capitals and were unlucky not to get the second point.)
Hopefully this slap in the face brings to light the fact that this team has been playing an awful lot like they were at the beginning of this season as of late, just with pucks still continuing to find the back of the net. Heaven knows, this team needs to get re-focused on its work ethic and defensive systems that were so pivotal in turning this season around, and quickly. With 16 games to go before the start of the playoffs, the last thing Anaheim needs is to go cold going in.
Worst: Yet Another Key D-Man Down
Simon Despres went out with an apparent concussion after taking an elbow in the head from Tyson Barrie in the first meeting between these two teams in the fourth game of the season. He missed over 40 games with that injury.
Late in the first period of their second meeting, Sami Vatanen took an apparent elbow to the head and was clearly rattled. While he did return to the bench and played another shift before the end of the period, he never re-emerged from the locker room after the first intermission and he has been declared "day to day" by coach Bruce Boudreau, pending a further evaluation.
And knowing this team's lockdown secrecy tendencies in terms of releasing injury information, Vatanen may be out for a while, because that sure as hell feels like a failed concussion protocol.
Worst: Dump It In, Chase it Back to Your End
Despite the unbelievable amount of space they were afforded in the neutral zone all night long, Anaheim still continued to insist on playing the dump and chase game at the Colorado blue line. Sometimes this is the more prudent play when you're the slower team, but this more often lead to the Ducks then immediately having to turn back as Colorado simply got to the puck first and worked it out of their end with a few well-placed breakout passes.
While specific zone entry data for this game wasn't available, the Ducks were visibly frustrated by their ability to get in and generate turnovers consistently while playing the dump-and-chase game.
Worst: Bye Bye, Pacific Lead
Well it was nice to hold the lead in the division for about two games. With this loss and the Kings surviving a three-goal comeback by the Washington Capitals to win in OT, the Ducks have dropped to second place in the division, once again trailing the Kings by a point.
As you can see, clearly not a whole lot of positives from this tilt. The road trip continues with a big test against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, which hopefully the team gets refocused and prepared for.