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Ducks @ Blackhawks RECAP: Starting the Road Trip with a Loss

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Robin Lehner leads the Hawks to victory over a struggling Anaheim Ducks

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks have lost their 3rd straight game. Things look bleak for the offense and defense in front of John Gibson and with the New Jersey Devils winning over the Washington Capitals and the Ottawa Senators taking the Montreal Canadiens to overtime, the Ducks now find themselves in 30th in the NHL standings, ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings.

The bottom line right now is accepting that the Anaheim Ducks are not yet a team that is ready to win and compete, and that’s ok. I hold on to hope for every season until the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and I will always root for the Ducks to win in every game they play. It’s just who I am. I’ll celebrate every goal and be frustrated with every loss.

Let’s evaluate this game in particular and see the silver linings and the dark areas that need desperate attention.

The first period started with both teams trying to find their legs and neither team really making any huge pushes or dominating possession. The Ducks were able to break the ice first with Ondrej Kase making a fantastic play behind the net to steal a Connor Murphy pass and find Max Jones wide open in the slot. 1-0 Ducks.

The Hawks would turn up the pressure after allowing this opening goal and find a response just under 5 minutes later as Jonathan Toews beat John Gibson on a 2-on-1 rush, just about a minute after being robbed by the post behind the Ducks goaltender. 1-1.

The first period exploited a lot of issues the Ducks defense was struggling with in terms of moving the puck and breaking out of the zone, but they escaped the period level and hoped to regroup and come out firing in the 2nd.

They did not.

The Hawks got significantly better in the 2nd frame and the Ducks did not have any answers for the pressure being put on them. Dominik Kubalik scored twice in the period, as John Gibson did everything he could to try to keep Chicago at bay to give the Ducks a chance to stay in the game as long as possible. His best efforts resulted in the Ducks leaving the 2nd period down 3-1 and staring at a steep hill to climb in the 3rd.

Rickard Rakell would finally show up in the 3rd period of this game, finding the back of the net early in the period to bring the gap back to just one goal. However, Olli Maatta would respond just 1:30 later and restore the two-goal lead for the Hawks. That score would hold through the remainder of the game, and the Ducks lost their third consecutive contest, and begin 0-1 on the road trip.

Best & Worst

Best

Max Jones - Seeing Max Jones score and create offense throughout the game is a very welcome sight for Ducks fans. The future of the team’s offense is largely dependent on the development of the kids they have right now, and the more they can score, the better we can all feel about that direction moving into future seasons.

Discipline - The Ducks took only one penalty in the game against the Blackhawks and killed off the penalty with relative ease. Finding ways to stay out of the box is essential to being competitive in games, and strong discipline is something I’m not entirely used to seeing from this Ducks team.

Late Pressure - Despite being down two goals throughout a majority of the 3rd period, the Ducks did not roll over and die in this game. Most fans of the Ducks are ok at this point with the team losing games due to the potential upside it brings in draft lottery odds, but we all still want to see the team be competitive in these games. They put a lot of late pressure on the Hawks defense and Robin Lehner was the main reason that the Ducks were not able to claw back into it.

Worst

Defense - The defending from the Ducks in this game was just awful. Jacob Larsson, Michael Del Zotto, Josh Manson, and Erik Gudbranson all had games I’m sure they would like to forget and they provided very little for the team. The passes to escape the defensive zone were mediocre at best and a lot of them were either intercepted or turned right back into the zone. The attempts to move through the neutral zone were the same story. At the end of the day, you aren’t going to win a lot of hockey games if four of your six defenseman play a bad game.

Transitions - A little bit of a similar story to the bullet point above, but the Ducks just have to find better ways to move the puck up the ice with speed and efficiency. The team is by no means one of the fastest teams in the league, but they should have enough pieces on the roster now that they can be somewhat threatening on zone entries. That hasn’t really been the case so far this season and there’s a lot of work to be done before teams need to respect how the Ducks move the puck up the ice.

Losing - Losing is just the worst. I get that it might help long-term, but it isn’t fun to watch and I’m sure it isn’t fun to be a part of in the locker room either.

The Ducks are back in action on Monday night when the road trip continues in St. Louis against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues.

By The Numbers

3 Stars of the Game

3. Max Jones

2. Dominik Kubalik

1. Robin Lehner