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Ducks vs. Senators MORNING THOUGHTS: Welcome Home Adam Henrique

Adam Henrique scores his first two goals with the Ducks in home debut.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Anaheim Ducks Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Boy it’s good to finally be back home. That must have been on the minds of most Ducks players as they returned to the Honda Center following a long six game road trip in which the club finished 1-2-3. After such a road trip, you would think those who create the schedule would allow the team a day to recover, but apparently they aren’t Ducks fans. Randy Carlyle shared his thoughts about the tough stretch:

"It's the first road trip I've ever been on in my career that you play six in a row on the road and then come back and play at home off a back to back. That's a new one."

Although the Ducks have been average so far this season, they came into the game only two points out of a wild card spot. With all the numerous injuries and lackluster play at times, it’s easy to begin to panic and think the sky is falling. If last night’s game is any indication, I think it’s safe to say the Ducks will be ok.

Playing the second game of a back-to-back, The Ducks needed a strong defensive effort and solid play in net to seal a win and that is exactly what it received. Ryan Miller was amazing, yet again, stopping all 29 shots he faced to not only record his 40th shutout of his career, but also the Ducks first shutout of the season. In fact with the shutout, Miller now is in a tie for the second most shutouts as a U.S. born goalie.

Among active goalies, Miller is tied for seventh with Carey Price in career shutouts.

On the road trip, the Ducks added a new addition to the team when it sent Sami Vatanen to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Henrique. Henrique was brought in to help boost an offensive unit that not only has endured more than its share of injuries, but ranks 25th in the league in goals scored. Needless to say, Henrique made plenty of new fans as he scored his first two goals as a Duck in his home debut. Through his first four games with Anaheim, Henrique now has five points (two goals, three assists).

Coming off such a tough road stretch, it was expected to witness a tired and slow Ducks team who wouldn’t be quick to get after pucks and who would possibly stand around at times in the defensive zone. However, if the Ducks were fatigued at all, it wasn’t apparent at the start of the game. In fact, the Ducks played with solid energy overall and it wasn’t until a few lapses in the third period that the team showed any indications of being tired. Overall, it was a very nice bounce-back win for the Ducks and a hopeful momentum builder as they continue on with the three game home stand.

Best and Worst

BEST - Coming into the game, Anaheim needed a strong defensive effort. At times this season the defense has allowed far too many shots on net and has had lapses in their coverages which allows teams to get far too many quality scoring chances or one-on-ones with the goalies. (Just refer to the Blackhawks game for prime examples.) But last night’s game the unit came out solid, although not perfect, but did enough to secure a victory and assist Miller in a shutout. Here were Carlyle’s thoughts:

"It was more like a business-like attitude we took toward the hockey game. We knew we were playing a team that was going to come in here desperate. We had to manage the puck properly and do some things more consistently. Tonight we were much more on our toes and much more committed to doing the little things."

Ryan Miller continued to impress as one of the leagues better backups and is proving to be one of the better pickups of the offseason for GM Bob Murray. Along with his 40th career shutout, Miller improved his record to 3-0-4. With only 8 games played this season, Miller boasts a 0.94 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.73. Although its unfair to compare his save percentage to regular starters, I’m going to do so anyways for the sake of this article. Of goalies with at least 8 games played, Miller ranks tied for first with his 94 SV%. Although 8 games is not a huge sample size, I believe the Ducks are more than happy with what they’ve received thus far.

Aside from Henrique being a solid addition to the offensive and power play unit, let’s not forget about the other goal scorer of the night. Ondrej Kase made the Senators look silly with a highlight worthy goal in the second period. Words can’t describe how beautiful a goal it was so I’ll let the video speak for itself:

Although being modest, here’s what Kase had to say about his play:

WORST - Overall I liked the effort brought by the Ducks. But if I had to complain about anything, it would be the penalties this team seems to take again and again and again.....

Anaheim committed four penalties in the game, three resulting in a man advantage for Ottawa. Far too often this season the Ducks have taken untimely penalties allowing the opposition to either regain momentum or take control of the game. Luckily the Ducks goalie play has been able to make up for some of the penalty miscues, but as they always say, if you play with fire you’ll eventually get burned. The Ducks have a total of 149 penalties for an average of 12:24 penalty minutes a game. That’s almost three quarters of a period that the Ducks are shorthanded a night. They currently are second in the league in penalty minutes trailing only the Nashville Predators. If there’s any consolation, the Ducks finished last season second as well in penalty minutes and still made a deep playoff run, however that team was far more healthier than this year’s squad. If the Ducks want to compete for a wildcard spot with an injury plagued roster, they need to remain disciplined and cut back on the penalty minutes.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Adam Henrique - 2 goals ( one empty net )
  2. Ryan Miller - 29 saves, first shutout of the season
  3. Ondrej Kase - 1 beautiful goal.

The Ducks will host the Minnesota Wild Friday, December 8th at 7PM PST.