By Thomas Harrington
After posting a record of .500 in their first 10 games, the Anaheim Ducks went 5-3-2, giving them 12 points in their next 10 games. After scoring 25 goals to start the season, Anaheim lit the lamp 27 times from games 11 through 20, a marginal increase. Their goals against also went up by two, as the Ducks allowed 25 goals, up from 23.
Best and Worst Players
Anaheim had a number of forwards really step up in the last 10 games, but none more so than Ryan Kesler. He was tied for the team lead in goals with six, was tied for second in points with eight, was tied for the team lead with a +6 rating, and won nearly 60% of his faceoffs. He did all that while battling the opposition’s top offensive star, like Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and New York’s John Tavares, and seeing significant minutes on the penalty kill. Kesler has arguably been Anaheim’s most consistent forward this season and so far he’s been living up to his big contract extension.
Once again, the Ducks’ best defenseman over the last 10 games was Cam Fowler. He hasn’t slowed down from his spectacular start to the season, putting up three goals and six points. He’s already eclipsed his goal total from last season. Besides his offensive contributions, Fowler is also still getting it done defensively. With Hampus Lindholm back in the lineup, Fowler doesn’t have to do as much, but he has far and away been Anaheim’s best defender through the first 20 games this season.
Anaheim’s worst forward over the last 10 games was Jared Boll. He was one of two forwards to record no points in the last 10 games, the other was Ryan Garbutt. However, Garbutt plays on the penalty kill unit and contributes in other ways. Other than getting in a few fights, Boll did almost nothing while on the ice and saw himself a healthy scratch one time as well. With the way some of Anaheim’s callups are playing right now, he might find himself as a healthy scratch more often as Anaheim gets healthy again.
The Ducks’ worst defenseman over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. While he did score his first goal of the season, overall, he just hasn’t been that impressive. His drop in play also came with decreased ice time, as he played less than 20 minutes six games in a row. His fewer minutes came even before Lindholm returned to the lineup. All that being said, he has been better in the last couple of games and seen his ice time go up as a result.
Between The Pipes
In net, John Gibson got six starts but was pulled in two of them, as the Ducks got lit up a couple of times in the last 10 games. However, other than in the losses to Pittsburgh and Nashville, Gibson played well in net overall. He also picked up his first point of the season when he assisted on Fowler’s goal against Edmonton. Overall, Gibson had a record 2-3-1. The Ducks are going to need more from him going forward. Jonathan Bernier was mostly healthy over the last 10 games and got four starts while also appearing in the two games that Gibson got pulled in. Bernier showed why he used to be considered one of the young up and coming goaltenders in the league, as he put up a solid performance in every game he appeared in and had a record of 3-0-1. With how busy Anaheim’s upcoming schedule is, having a backup who can be relied on to get the win is a huge boon for the Ducks going forward.
Anaheim Youth Steps Up
Anaheim’s rookies continue to shine early in the season. Joseph Cramarossa played in eight games, the most of any of Anaheim’s rookies and recorded two assists. However, he was injured in a recent game. Ondrej Kase made his NHL debut against Pittsburgh and picked up his first career assist against Arizona. Overall he has played in four games but has yet to score a goal, but he did hit two posts against the Islanders and scored in the shootout as well in what was easily his best game in the NHL so far. Shea Theodore only appeared in two games in Anaheim’s last 10, struggling against Pittsburgh but playing very well against the Islanders. With Clayton Stoner out with a minor injury, Theodore will likely get more NHL games going forward. Despite not being a rookie, Nick Ritchie is still one of Anaheim’s young forwards who needs to be mentioned in this section. Ritchie scored two goals in the last 10 games, giving him four on the season, a new career-high for him. With four goals through 20 games, he’s on pace to score about 16 goals this season, a mark that would be pretty good for him in his first full season.
A few more things that caught my eye over the last 10 games. Rickard Rakell appeared in all 10 games and scored six goals and eight points. Last season, he was one of Anaheim’s most offensively creative forwards, this season, there’s little question that he has been Anaheim’s most offensively creative forward. Jakob Silfverberg led the team with 10 points in 10 games, including a four-point effort against Carolina. If not for Kesler being flat out dominant, Silfverberg would have been Anaheim’s best forward. Neither Ryan Getzlaf nor Corey Perry scored a goal in the last 10 games, but they led the team in assists over the last 10 games as Perry picked up eight and Getzlaf picked up seven. If Anaheim wants to continue to improve this season, they are going to need more from their two stars.
Antoine Vermette was a beast in the faceoff circle, winning over 65% of the draws he took. Lindholm joined Anaheim and played in their last seven games. He has yet to score a goal but does have a couple of assists and played a team-high 28:49 against New York. Even though he hasn’t put up a ton of points yet, his defensive play has been solid and he clearly already has Randy Carlyle’s trust to be on the ice in any situation. Finally, in an odd stat, the only defensemen besides Fowler to score a goal were Bieksa and Stoner, as Sami Vatanen, Theodore, and Lindholm all failed to score a goal in the last 10 games.
On the injury front, Simon Despres and Nate Thompson are both still out and it’s unclear when either of them will return. Cramarossa hopefully won’t be out long-term, but it’s unclear how long he’ll be out for. Stoner has a minor injury but it remains to be seen how long he is out for. Both were not on the ice for practice today.
After being an okay team over the first 10 games, Anaheim has started to turn things around but they are still plagued by inconsistent play. The line of Kesler, Silfverberg, and Andrew Cogliano has been Anaheim’s best line, and hopefully, they can maintain this level of play going forward. Getzlaf and Perry are the two players that Anaheim really needs more from. It’s great that both got so many assists, but both of them need to start finding the back of the net again. If they can, the Ducks record will hopefully improve over the next 10 games.
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