The Ducks fell for the second game in a row by a 3-1 final score, courtesy of an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game. So, the Ducks are close, but they can’t quite find that big goal that will push them at least into OT and into the points column in the standings. So, what will it take for them to find that extra edge?
The obvious first two answers are the power play and the injuries. The power play has still yet to record a goal on the season through 21 chances. Of course, the injured playmakers like Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen will make this all better and give the Ducks the threatening offense that fans have come to know and love upon their return, Anaheim will need to find a way to make things work until then.
However, a lot of their struggles offensively could be due to the things that happen before they even enter the offensive zone. Bad passes in the neutral zone and silly turnovers kill scoring opportunities before they even have the chance to really form. Just in this game against Buffalo alone, the Ducks had eleven giveaways, compared to only three from the Sabres. This was noted by many on Twitter as well.
As with most games this season, the passing isn't good tonight, esp. in neutral zone. Seeing lots behind target or into skates, not to tape.— USA Best Kyle (@LCH_Kyle) October 16, 2017
Passing needs to improve if the Ducks are going to be able to build up some steady pressure in the offensive zone and pressure opposing goalies. Goaltenders like Jonathan Bernier and Chad Johnson should not be having as easy of a time as they have been, regardless of what lineup the Ducks have been fielding. If the Ducks gameplan is still to cycle the puck and find open shooting lanes, then the passes need to be crisp and put into the right areas.
The game-winning goal from Benoit Pouliot was a direct result of a turnover from the Ducks, and that points to a potentially bigger issue systemically. The most difficult part is that it’s really difficult to analyze what the issues may be while essentially half the lineup is recovering to become healthy. Many can just point to that as the main reason that the Ducks are unable to score and provide offense, and they may be right.
Randy Carlyle had a much more optimistic view of the Ducks performance in the postgame, however. I’m not really sure if I can agree with the coach here, as many of the players not named Jakob Silfverberg seemed to be missing that extra step.
RC: “You can tell we’re starting to tighten the grip on our sticks, and that’s confidence. We need to reset on this break here.”— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 16, 2017
However, the special teams struggles continue. The penalty kill continues to be decent but not great, and the Ducks seem to enjoy killing all of their momentum and practicing the PK more than they should. Or maybe....maybe it’s the fact that the Ducks have zero power play goals and three shorthanded goals already on the year that they’ve now realized that the penalty kill may be more of an advantage than the actual power play. The power play jokes continue regardless, as former Anaheim Calling fearless leader and Editor-In-Chief put it:
Ducks might want to consider declining power plays at this point.— Jen Neale (@MsJenNeale) October 16, 2017
Best and Worst
The best from this game might have been that the Ducks managed to keep shot attempts fairly even throughout the game. Over the last two or three games, the Ducks have been outshot pretty significantly, and this shows that they are really struggling to keep possession and create scoring opportunities from it. While they may still be struggling in the offensive department, it is a positive sign that they are at least managing to limit the amount of shots on goal.
The worst from this game has to be the inability to really test Chad Johnson. The Ducks got 26 shots on goal in the course of this game, but I can only think of two off the top of my head that really should be called legitimate scoring chances. Anaheim is pretty notorious for missing the net at this point, and that can really hurt an offense, especially against a goaltender like Johnson who might leave rebounds laying around. Getting those shots on net and really putting pressure on the goaltender to make saves is paramount, and the Ducks have to work on their accuracy if they want to see their offensive numbers increase.
Three Stars of the Game:
3. Jakob Silfverberg- He may not have appeared on the scoresheet in this game, but he was all over the puck and probably deserved to be rewarded somehow.
2. Chris Wagner- Scored on a shorthanded breakaway thanks to a pretty forehand-backhand move. His foot-speed in the neutral zone allowed him to beat the penalty killers to the net.
1. Jack Eichel- Also did not appear on the scoresheet, but definitely was the leader of the Sabres offense. Finished with 20:38 of ice time and continually broke free from Anaheim defender’s to lead to scoring opportunities.
Are the Ducks Offensive Struggles Simply Stemming From Just Missing Their Best Playmakers?
This poll is closed
If you vote “No”, be sure to put in the comments what you think the issue is!