Things are not going well for the Anaheim Ducks. They fall once again, allowing four goals for the fifth time in six games. This time coming at the hands of the St. Louis Blues who sit atop the Western conference (and the league after this win).
The Ducks just looked in complete disarray for the majority of the game as they continue their hold of the bottom spot in the West. They kept it close in shots to begin the game but the second period was when the Blues began to pull away. Not only did they pick up their play, but the Ducks just looked like a team that had never played together before. Their passing was off, they always seemed to be wrangling in the puck without any actual control. Worst of all, they were atrocious at handling the puck in their own zone, handing the Blues two of their four goals and nearly giving a few more away.
At this point, the Ducks have to know that almost no one is safe, whether it be from being sent down or offered on the trade table. We can all be hopeful this season results in a top three draft pick, but the team could be looking very different by the end of the season if the Ducks can show some sign of sustained improvement.
Anaheim nearly caught a lucky break early as Robert Bortuzzo almost put the puck in his own net after being pressured below the goal line.
It was a sloppy start but the Blues struck first. Gibson came out to stop a hard shot from Bortuzzo. He made the save but sent a rebound out wide and was left out of position. Alexander Steen put it on net again and Gibson wasn’t able to recover.
It didn’t take long for the Ducks to tie it back up, however. Maxime Comtois got the puck at the point on a failed clearing attempt and put a wrist-shot on net. There was a lot of traffic coming through the middle and it caused Allen to miss the shot as it went five-hole.
First period ended with both teams getting a mere five shots on net. The Ducks especially looked disorganized and unable to handle the puck cleanly.
St. Louis would reclaim the lead after Anaheim showed a horrendous effort in their zone, giving the puck away several times and allowing the Blues a two-on-one look. Tyler Bozak recieved the pass across and roofed it short side past Gibson.
Ryan Getzlaf got the Ducks their best look of the period during some 4v4 play. He was able to skate up to the crease untouched and tried to quickly go forehand and lift it over Allen far side, but the Blues netminder got just enough to keep it in front.
The Blues extended their lead with a nice passing sequence. Alex Pietrangelo fed it down low to Brayden Schenn which drew in the attention of Gibson and the defense. Schenn sent a pass across to Jaden Schwartz for an easy tap in. This was the turning point for the Blues to take control of the game. They had scored three goals on only nine shots so far, but by the end of the period would have 28 shots.
Anaheim closed out the period with another terrible attempt to clear the defensive zone and gave the puck away. It was a near identical play to the previous goal for Schwartz, but he couldn’t get full contact on the bouncing puck. It trickled on goal but Erik Gudbranson made a diving effort and was able to whack it to safety.
Anaheim got their first powerplay of the game all the way into the third period, but couldn’t generate anything. David Perron took another penalty immediately after serving his first one however, so the Ducks got a second chance. They looked a little better but still couldn’t get a goal.
In a “rip your hair out” set of events, the Ducks allow the fourth goal of the night. John Gibson went to play the puck behind the net, and as he dropped it off he was run into by Hampus Lindholm. Ivan Barbashev was able to skate in, grab the puck, and casually put it into an empty net.
Best and Worst
Worst - Everything. Everything was the worst. The offense couldn’t get anything going, generating only 21 shots on net. On the defensive side, they were all sorts of confused on what to do or where to pass the puck. And Gibson, despite being left out to dry (again) continues to struggle this season.
Best - The best is ahead of us. The Ducks have loads of players under the age of 25 and they could very well be adding a top three pick this offseason. We all knew this season would be the Ducks continuing that “transfer of youth”. It may be a little worse than we hoped, but the future is still bright.
By the Numbers
Three Stars of the Game
3. Jake Allen
2. Maxime Comtois
1. Jaden Schwartz - at least he got me a goal in fantasy hockey.
Ducks next matchup is Thursday when they take on the Nashville Predators. Puck drops at 5pm PST.