By Jameson Bradley
After a crazy holiday season, and what looks like no slowing down for a certain sci-fi movie demolishing the box office, we draw our attention toward the hockey standings, season, and plays. If you have been living under a rock the whole hockey season, or just started following the Ducks, here is a quick break down of what you need to know.
The season started in October. Expectations were high. The Ducks were one win away from competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup itself last year, dropping game seven of the Conference Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks at Honda Center. However, in the first ten games of the season the Anaheim Ducks went 1-7-2. That means they only won a single game, dropped seven in regulation, and went on to drop two more in overtime/shootout. That’s probably one of the reasons you haven’t heard too much of the Ducks in 2015.
However, as most New Year’s Resolutions go, the Ducks took a “New Year, New Me” attitude as 2016 approached. In the last six games they have gone 4-1-1. Their only regulation loss came Wednesday night as they were shutout by the Maple Leafs 4-0. It was a tough game, especially with no goal celebrations for the home team. It was the eighth time that the Ducks have been shut out this season. Despite the setback, the Ducks suddenly find that they are not only competing for third in the division, which is good for a playoff spot, but they are in range of second, and possibly even first. None of this matters, of course, unless the Ducks are ready to take the next step forward from their horrible start.
Have the Ducks finally realized they are almost at the half-way mark of the season? The All-Star game looms upon us at the end of January. Festivities which traditionally mark the beginning of the downhill portion of the season. Yesterday it was announced the Ducks had traded forward Max Friberg for goalie Dustin Tokarski. For more on the trade please visit: Ducks Trade Friberg To Montreal
Tokarski, who was phenomenal last year in the playoffs for Montreal, has had a rocky season. His record in 4 games played is 1-3-0. But why is he coming to Anaheim? Goals have been something hard to come by this season, so why goal-tending? Anderson held the Ducks together, as best he could, in their first ten games. Gibson has been on fire as of late, even earning rookie of the month honors for December. There is no doubt the Ducks have under performed since the start of the season, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who feels the goal-tending is the problem. Even playing only a portion of the season, John Gibson was still able to punch a ticket to the All-Star game in Nashville. For more on the All-Star selection please visit: Perry And Gibson Named to 2016 All-Star Game
This explains the confusion as many ask, why Tokarski? I believe there has been an awakening. The players feel it. The coaches feel it. The GM feels it. The season is not slowing down. In fact, it is only going to speed up from this point. The players are finally connecting, and great things will happen in the coming months. One of two things will happen with Tokarski. One possibility is that he is going to become the backup for Gibson, and the Ducks have a monster trade planned in the coming months for Frederik Andersen. Maybe Druin? Maybe Eberle? Who knows? Or, Gibson and Andersen stay in net, and Tokarski is used to beef up an already existing trade they have planned.
I am leaning towards the latter. Bob Murray has some big decisions to make in the next couple weeks. The last thing he needs to do is take a key part of the team out and replace it with something new. The off season taught us that. Anderson’s record does not in any way reflect his play. He has been incredible. To post a 2.50 GAA with the way the Ducks were playing in the beginning of the season says a lot. Sure, Gibson is the one getting wins, but I wouldn’t be quick to discredit Anderson. My sister made sure to remind me that the Ducks took a downward spiral when they traded fan-favorite Dustin Penner in 2014. Penner played on a line with Perry and Getzlaf, and until recently they had no true replacement for him. He wasn’t the best player, but he was part of the team. It is worth repeating, the last thing Bob Murray should do now is trade away key members. However, he does need to add something. Who will that something be? This writer does not know. Only the next couple weeks will tell.
Stay tuned to see the Ducks take on the Blues tonight. Puck drop is at 7 P.M. PST!
For more thoughts on the Ducks goalie situation please check out our latest poll question! POLL: Anaheim Goalie Shuffle
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