By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s up and down season continues, as they went 5-2-3 over the last 10 games prior to last night’s win against Arizona. Despite winning one fewer game, the 13 points the Ducks collected was the same amount of points as they earned over the previous 10 games. Overall, the Ducks scored 25 goals and allowed 28 in the last 10 games(not including last night’s victory).
The Ducks’ best forward over the last 10 games was Rickard Rakell. Ever since he signed his extension and was healthy enough to play, Rakell has far and away been Anaheim’s most offensively creative player. If not for Ryan Kesler’s monster season, Rakell would have been Anaheim’s best forward in a 10 game segment multiple times this season already, and he’s only played in 29 of Anaheim’s 40 games. He led the team with five goals, and his six points were tied for second on the team. He’s scoring on the power play, scoring at even strength, and led the team with two game-winning goals. He’s looked great early this season and should easily eclipse the career highs he set a year ago.
For the fourth consecutive 10 game segment, Cam Fowler was the Ducks’ best defenseman. His offensive production dropped from what he was doing earlier in the season, as he scored two goals and four points, but his overall play has remained at a high level. He’s not necessarily been Anaheim’s best defenseman every night, but he’s certainly been their most consistent one over the last 10 games and through the entire season.
Anaheim’s worst forward over the last 10 games was Corey Perry. He failed to score any goals in the last 10 games and only had three assists. Early in the season, Perry wasn’t scoring many goals but he was at least picking up a fair number of assists, but even those points have dried up. Perry is a goal scorer, and when he’s not scoring, he’s just not doing much for the Ducks. He did have a couple of strong games against Calgary and Vancouver, but overall, he just hasn’t been a factor. If he was getting a large number of shots and chances it would show that he’s just been having some bad luck and is still creating chances, but he only took 22 shots on goal in the last 10 games and eight of those came in the two games against Calgary and Vancouver. He needs to get his offense going in the second half of the season.
Anaheim’s worst defenseman over the last 10 games was Shea Theodore. I hate to say it, but the young defenseman has hit a bit of a rough patch. He did manage to score his first goal of the season but he was a -4 in only five games. He’s still young and learning the game in the NHL. He’ll hit some bumps in the road, as he has recently, but overall, he’s going to keep getting better. He’s currently in San Diego, but he’ll be back in Anaheim soon and I’m confident that he’ll rebound. Both this season and last we’ve seen only glimpses of how good he can be, and the glimpses we’ve seen have been very impressive.
John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier collectively appeared in all 10 of Anaheim’s games, and like the Ducks’ season, their play was up and down. Gibson started seven games and had a record of 4-1-3. He played one of his best games of the season against Philadelphia when he made 51 saves in the Ducks 4-3 shootout victory. He followed that up with a shutout against Detroit. Gibson still needs to work on his consistency, but we’ve seen how good he can be in these last couple games. Bernier started three games and had a record of 1-1, while also appearing briefly in the win over Philadelphia. His lone win came against Boston, a solid outing from him. His lone loss was against Montreal, a poor effort from the team overall. Bernier did start in the loss to Detroit but was pulled and the loss went to Gibson. Bernier didn’t have much game action in the last 10 games, but he’ll need to improve his play in the second half of the season.
Anaheim’s rookies continue to make their presence felt, both good and bad. While Theodore had his struggles, Brandon Montour finally made his NHL debut and has played in three games so far. He’s looking for his first NHL point, but played between 10 and 17 minutes in those three games and didn’t look out of place. Ondrej Kase continues to look like a steal as the former seventh-round draft pick had two goals and four points in the last 10 games, including two points against Detroit. Joseph Cramarossa had only one assist but he continues to be a solid presence on the team’s third and fourth lines. Stefan Noesen appeared in only three games and went scoreless before being returned to San Diego. He’s playing well for the Gulls but I expect him to be back in the NHL later this season. Nick Ritchie had two goals and three points and has a legitimate chance at scoring 20 goals this season. I was hoping for 10 to 15 goals from the young winger this season, so if he can hit 20 that would be fantastic.
A few more things that caught my eye in the last 10 games. Ryan Kesler picked up his first hat trick as a Duck, and it was also the first hat trick of the season for Anaheim. Those three goals were the only goals Kesler scored in the last 10 games. Kesler also led the team with nine points. Sami Vatanen led the defense with four assists but failed to score any goals. He also missed three games with an illness. Korbinian Holzer had a couple of assists, including an absolute beauty against the Flyers. Josh Manson scored his first goal of the season. Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg both had five points. Those two, combined with Kesler, continue to be Anaheim’s best line on a nightly basis. Chris Wagner was recalled from San Diego and played in one game but went scoreless. Logan Shaw was the only player to appear in all 10 games and not score any points.
On the injury front, there is no update on Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner was officially placed on IR. Nate Thompson is also still out, but it sounds like he is making progress and will hope to make his season debut sometime after the All-Star break. Ryan Getzlaf currently has a lower body injury but it’s unclear how long he’ll be out for.
The Ducks only won five games in their last 10, but managed to pick up some extra points in their three overtime losses. Overtime is an area that Anaheim has really struggled in. If they had won just half of their overtime games, they would be on top of the Pacific Division. The Ducks are going to need to dramatically improve their three on three play in the second half of the season. For now, the lone point they’ve been getting in overtime has been helpful, but they will need to get that extra point going forward as the playoff races get tighter.
Anaheim did finally get their first overtime win last night, which will be discussed in the next 10 game review article. For highlights visit: Kase Propels Ducks To First OT Win
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January 7, 2017