By Thomas Harrington
One game isn’t enough time to evaluate how good or bad a team or a player is. With this in mind, I’ll be doing two different review series: one that will focus on individual players on the Ducks, and one that will focus on the team overall. At the end of every month, I’ll take a look back at how the team is performing overall. I’ll examine how special teams are doing, good and bad trends, and anything else that seems relevant at the time. For the other review, after every 10 games, I’ll break down how well the players have done. I’ll look at who I think was the best forward and defenseman during those games, as well as who I think was the worst forward and defenseman and how Anaheim’s rookies are doing. I’ll also mention any surprises, both good and bad, and discuss both goaltenders as well.
While the Ducks didn’t have a great month in October, their record of 3-4-2 was only a game below .500 and certainly better than last year, when the Ducks only picked up one win in 10 games. Their eight points in the standings have them just outside of the playoff picture, a spot the Ducks don’t want to be in, but with only the first month of the season done, things are far from dire. However, if they want to keep pace in the playoff race, the Ducks will need to put together a better November.
The Ducks had a few great games in October, but their best was their 6-1 win over Nashville. Any time a team scores five special teams goals, three on the power play and two shorthanded, it’s hard to have a better game. Nick Ritchie got things going in the first period with a power play goal. The Ducks have struggled in the second period this season, but the second period against Nashville was the best period of hockey the Ducks have played so far. They scored five times, and Jakob Silfverberg led the way with his first two goals of the season. Their only blemish was the lone power play goal that Nashville managed to score in the third. What was even more impressive about this win is that the Ducks were without Ryan Getzlaf, because he had suffered a minor injury against San Jose in the previous game.
The Ducks also had a few bad games in October, but their worst was the most recent loss to Columbus. The Ducks lost the contest 4-0, but the game wasn’t as bad as the score indicates. Early on, both teams had a number of quality chances and the Ducks’ top line of Getzlaf, Ritchie, and Corey Perry in particular, looked dangerous. However, once Sam Gagner scored, the floodgates opened and Columbus scored four goals in about four minutes, effectively ending the game in the first period. The Ducks had some chances to get on the board in the final forty minutes, but Sergei Bobrovsky turned Anaheim away. Overall, it wasn’t a good performance by the Ducks and was their worst game in October.
Anaheim’s special teams were middle of the road in October; their power play scored six goals in 31 chances and their penalty kill allowed seven goals in 42 chances. Cam Fowler led the way with two goals and five points on the man advantage. The other four power play goals were scored by Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen, Silfverberg, and Ritchie. Despite giving up seven power play goals, the Ducks did score three shorthanded goals in October, two from Andrew Cogliano and one from Silfverberg. Shea Theodore picked up a shorthanded assist, his only point of the season so far. Antoine Vermette, Silfverberg, Kesler, and Cogliano were some of Anaheim’s strongest penalty killers in October. Cogliano is also tied with Perry for the team lead in goals scored with four.
October wasn’t a great start for the Ducks, but there are a number of positives for the team to build off of going forward. November won’t be easy, as it starts out with back-to-back games against Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, but if the Ducks play like they did against Nashville or Vancouver, they have an excellent chance of moving above .500 and back into playoff position.
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