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Time to build a new streak

NHL: Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames came into town and finally put an end to Anaheim’s home dominance over them for the last 13 years. With a 2-0 victory, the Flames took advantage of a depleted Ducks roster and Mike Smith was superb in stopping all 43 of Anaheim’s shots.

The Ducks were without Patrick Eaves, Hampus Lindholm, Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen and Nick Ritchie, who was a late scratch. Talk about losing some of your team’s firepower. However, the Ducks Captain, Ryan Getzlaf, as well as Jaycob Megna, made their season debuts. Even with the Captain back, the team had another slow start and although they applied pressure in the first several minutes of the frame, they went a span of almost 14 minutes without a single shot on net. This has been a theme for the team so far this season and was touched upon by the Ducks coach:

“We had chances, we created a lot more chances in the second half of the game versus the first half of the game. And that's been our Achilles heel in these last three games. We haven’t had a start that we can be proud of.” - Randy Carlyle

As for Calgary, they kept applying the pressure and made John Gibson make a number of quality saves. In fact, if not for Gibson’s solid play, the Ducks easily could have lost this game 4-0 or even 5-0. Several times throughout the night Calgary had odd man rushes forcing Gibson to make sprawling saves such as this one on Sean Monahan:

This is to be expected when the team is missing two of its top defensemen in Lindholm and Vatanen. On the opposite end of the ice, the Flames net minder, Mike Smith, was outstanding. Calgary brought Smith in during the offseason from the Arizona Coyotes in hopes that he would be able to propel them into the playoffs. Smith entered the game with a record of 13-8-3 including 4 shutouts against Anaheim in his career. Needless to say he added to that solid record with yet another shutout. Not only did he stop all 43 Anaheim shots, but he didn’t really leave too many rebounds to give the Ducks extra opportunities.

“I don’t know if we did a good enough job getting in there for second and third opportunities. We directed a lot of pucks at the net, but I don’t think we had any rebound opportunities until the third period.” - Ryan Getzlaf

In fact, his dominance against the Ducks tonight also drew attention from our own AC staff:

The Bests and Worsts:

With a 13 year home win streak snapped and a shutout to top it all off, it’s easy to think of many “worsts,” but one the that stands out the most is the Ducks inability to score with the man advantage. To date, the Ducks are a disappointing 0-for-11 with the man advantage and almost half of those opportunities came against the Flames. It’s not rocket science—when some of your key offensive players are not even suited up due to injury, you need to be successful on special teams to give yourself a chance to win. To be honest, I was completely shocked to see Derek Grant on the man advantage towards the end of the game since he hasn’t scored a goal in 89 games! That means that myself and everyone here on the AC staff have as many goals combined as Grant does! Needless to say that is not a recipe for success on your power play unit. To give him some credit though, he did come awfully close on a rebound in the 3rd period while crashing the net.

As for a “best,” the fact that the Ducks had 43 shots on goal is promising. They weren’t shutout because of merely not having chances, but they just weren’t able to capitalize on the chances they had. Not only were they able to put 43 pucks on net, but they also had another 35 shot attempts get either blocked or miss wide. At one point our AC scientists formulated their own calculation of this:

If the Ducks can continue to apply pressure and rack up shot totals, the goals will eventually come. Another positive note was having Getzlaf back in the lineup. Not only will he eventually return to form, but he immediately adds leadership, which a young core needs to overcome such offensive struggles. The last positive from this game is the video of Rakell below. I’ll let is speak for itself:

Rakell was the Ducks scoring leader last season with 33 goals and seeing him make such moves on a solid defensemen in T.J. Brodie leaves me feeling positive that good things will eventually happen for this team. The Ducks just need to weather the storm in the meantime until they can get their top players back form injury.

My Three Stars Of The Game:

  1. Mike Smith ( 43 saves )
  2. Mikael Backlund ( 1 goal )
  3. John Gibson ( 29 saves )

The Ducks will hope their offensive woes turn around as they next face the NY Islanders on Wednesday night. The Islanders are coming off a shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday and like Anaheim, will be looking for the second win in regulation.