By Thomas Harrington
After struggling in every facet of the game in their first 10 games, the Ducks played much better over the last 10 games. After only scoring 10 goals in the first 10 games, the Ducks were able to beat opposing goaltenders 27 times in the last 10 games. Their defensive play also improved as they gave up three fewer goals as well.
The Ducks’ best forward over the last 10 games was Corey Perry. After failing to score at all in the first 11 games of the season, Perry finally broke through with his first goal with seconds left in the 12th game. That goal tied the game against Florida, which the Ducks eventually won in a shootout. Overall, he scored five goals and nine points in the last 10 games, leading the Ducks in both categories. Five of those points came on the powerplay, helping get the Ducks’ powerplay get out of the basement of the NHL. He also picked up the game winning goal against San Jose.
The Ducks’ best defensemen over the last 10 games was Sami Vatanen. After he struggled in the first 10 games of the season, he, along with a lot of other players, has significantly stepped up his game. Offensively, he had three goals and eight points, leading the defense in both categories. However, it’s his defensive game that was much stronger in the last 10 games. The Ducks currently have the top penalty killing unit in the league, and he has been a big reason for that. He’s done an excellent job of getting to loose pucks, winning battles, blocking shots, and clearing the puck out of the defensive zone. He’s gotten more involved physically as well, using his body effectively and not getting knocked around so easily.
The worst forward over the last 10 games was Jakob Silfverberg. He’s played well when the Ducks have been shorthanded, but his offensive production has simply not been good enough this season. He finally scored his first goal of the season against Florida when he scored into the empty net, and only had three points in the last 10 games.
The worst defenseman over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. He was brought in to be a veteran leader on the blueline in the wake of Francois Beauchemin’s departure. So far, he hasn’t been able to fill those shoes. He plays a physical, in your face style of hockey but simply hasn’t been effective. He also has a cannon of a shot but has rarely used it this season, and has made a number of bad pinches. He started out the season paired with Hampus Lindholm, but the defensive lines have been switched up in recent games and he’s been playing with Cam Fowler. Bieksa has looked better next to Fowler, and hopefully he’s still just adjusting to his new team, but he has been a disappointment in Anaheim so far this season.
In net, Frederik Andersen picked up his first four wins of the season. While his overall play wasn’t as good as it was in the first 10 games, it was good to see him finally get some wins under his belt. He was shaky in the loss to Nashville and let in a few other questionable goals, but played well overall. Anton Khudobin saw his numbers improve dramatically in the last 10 games, as he posted a save percentage of .9275 and picked up his first shutout as a member of the Ducks in San Jose. He also picked up the win when the Ducks visited Carolina.
A few other things stood out over the Ducks’ last 10 games. Nick Ritchie made his NHL debut and has appeared in three games for the Ducks(excluding tonight’s contest against Tampa Bay). He has yet to score a point, but did have four shots on goal in the win in Florida. He also has 13 hits in those three games, helping make up for the loss of Chris Wagner when Colorado claimed him off of waivers. Max Friberg was called up and played for five games before being returned to San Diego. He’s had a very good season in the AHL but his offensive talent hasn’t translated to the NHL yet. Despite not scoring, he did play well and showed he can be an effective member of the team’s bottom six when needed. After being a ghost through the first 10 games of the season, Chris Stewart has exploded for three goals and six points in the last 10 games, including a three point night in the win over Nashville. Both Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler scored their first goals of the season in the last 10 games, but have yet to find the back of the net since. Both need to start contributing on the offensive side of things a lot more in the final 62 games of the season. Clayton Stoner scored his first goal of the season, matching his output from a year ago. Finally, despite only appearing in seven games, Rickard Rakell put up six points and has been playing on the Ducks’ top line in the last few games and has looked right at home next to Getzlaf and Perry.
The Ducks’ offense has slowly woken up this season, and it still has a long way to go, but almost every player on the Ducks roster showed improvement over the last 10 games when compared to the opening 10 games of the season.
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