By Thomas Harrington
After seemingly turning the offense around in games 11-20, the Ducks struggled to score goals again in their last 10 games, as the team only scored 18 goals. Most of the Ducks’ best forwards continue to struggle to find the back of the net; as only five forwards scored more than once in the last 10 games. As a result, the Ducks were shutout two more times.
The Ducks’ best forward in the last 10 games was Corey Perry. He led the team with five goals and his seven points ranked tied for second on the team. He is the only forward on the ice who is a threat to score on a consistent basis, and the only player to have reached the 10 goal mark, 30 games into the season.
Anaheim’s best defenseman has been Cam Fowler. His offensive numbers haven’t been there, but his overall play has been great. He’s been the Ducks’ most consistent defenseman this season, using his speed to break up plays and join the rush. Fowler is reading plays better than he ever has and has been very strong when the Ducks are on the penalty kill. Similar to the rest of the team, he’s struggling to score, but he’s been one of the few bright spots this entire season.
The Ducks’ worst forward over the last 10 games has been Patrick Maroon. He played primarily on the fourth line and was held without a point in seven games. He was scratched three times, as the Ducks elected to go with rookie Nick Ritchie and the newly healed Nate Thompson. Maroon only returned to the lineup when Ritchie was sent back down to San Diego. Maroon is having an awful season, he’s barely scoring and his physical play has not been there on a consistent enough basis. He needs to start getting in front of the net and causing havoc for opposing goaltenders and defensemen, something he did a lot of in the playoffs last year.
Once again, Anaheim’s worst defensemen was Kevin Bieksa. He’s not the reason why the Ducks can’t score and he’s not the reason they are last in the Western Conference, but he’s certainly not helping this team with ill timed pinches and missing defensive assignments that lead to goals. He was brought in to provide veteran leadership and be a physical presence on the backend who will stop the opposition. I can’t speak to the first point, but he has done a poor job of stopping opponents from getting good scoring chances in the last 10 games, and throughout the season. While he’s not here to provide a ton of offense, zero points in the last 10 games simply isn’t good enough. He’s got a hard shot and gets time on the power play, but only has three assists on the season.
In net, the Ducks have turned to John Gibson and he has played very well. In November, Frederik Andersen went down with a nasty flu and has only recently returned to action. As a result, Gibson has started almost every game for the Ducks since he came in and got the win against Calgary. He picked up shutouts against Vancouver and and San Jose, and now leads the team with two this season. Overall, in the last 10 games, Gibson played in nine of them and picked up four wins. Anton Khudobin only played one game but was pulled. He has since been waived and sent to San Diego. Andersen only appeared in two games, against Carolina when he came in for relief of Gibson, and in the loss to Tampa.
A few more things that caught my eye in the last 10 games. Despite not scoring any goals, Ryan Getzlaf led the team in assists and points with nine. After scoring once in the first 20 games, Jakob Silfverberg scored twice, beating a goaltender both times. Hopefully he’ll start heating up more and find the puck on a much more consistent basis. Similar to Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler also scored twice in the last 10 games, after scoring only once in the first 20 games. Sami Vatanen led the defense in scoring with one goal and seven points. Ritchie appeared in eight games and recorded his first career point, assisting on one of Silfverberg’s goals. He’s since returned to the Gulls and has started putting up the points in San Diego again. Finally, after missing the entire season, Thompson finally made his regular season debut, and picked up two assists in his first three games back and seemed to help solidify the Ducks’ fourth line. Unfortunately, he was suspended for a hit in the loss to Carolina and will miss a couple more games before he can return to the lineup again.
This season, the Ducks seem to take one step forward and then two steps back. If the Ducks don’t right the ship soon, expect changes to come to Anaheim in the near future.
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