By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks struggled over the last 10 games, largely because of the monster six-game road trip the team went on. Overall, Anaheim went 4-5-1 and collected nine points. As a result, Anaheim now finds itself tied for second in the division with Edmonton. If the Ducks want a shot at the division or even home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, they cannot afford another 10 game stretch like this through the rest of the season.
Over the last 10 games, the Ducks’ best forward was Jakob Silfverberg. He led the team with seven points, despite playing in only nine games. He also led the team with four goals. Six of his seven points came at even strength. He also scored a powerplay goal and continued to be one of Anaheim’s better penalty killing forwards. He’s a threat to score almost every time he’s on the ice. It doesn’t matter which line he’s on, Silfverberg has been one of Anaheim’s most consistent forwards all season and was easily their best forward over the last 10 games.
Anaheim’s worst forward over the last 10 games was Antoine Vermette. He played in eight games and scored a goal and three points. However, he has also been suspended for abuse of an official. While his action was minor, it was still a stupid move that has the potential to hurt Anaheim as he has been suspended for 10 games. There is an appeal going forward and that number could be reduced, but regardless, he made a poor decision when he tapped the linesman.
The Ducks’ best defenseman over the last 10 games was Hampus Lindholm. His play continues to improve and he led the defense in scoring with two goals and five points. Four of his points came at even strength. Besides his offensive contributions, he continues to be stellar in his own end. Something often overlooked with Lindholm is his physical play. Despite only playing in 47 games this season, he has 76 hits and is sixth on the team in that category.
The worst Anaheim defenseman over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. He isn’t terrible every night and does have some good games, but his mistakes are often overshadowing the positives he brings. A perfect example is the loss against Washington, where he was caught watching the puck and the Capitals were able to score several times while he was on the ice. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit him for a game or two, as the Ducks did with Sami Vatanen earlier this season when he was struggling.
Goalies And Rookies
In net, John Gibson continues to start almost every game, starting nine of the past 10 games and compiling a record of 4-5. The record isn’t great, but he’s been playing very well and has two shutouts in his last three games, picking up 1-0 victories against both Minnesota and Los Angeles. Jonathan Bernier only started one game (though he did play about five minutes in the game against Buffalo when Gibson had an equipment issue), a shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the loss, he played very well, making 35 saves on 37 shots.
Anaheim’s rookies and young players struggled a bit in the last 10 games, but there were still some strong performances. Brandon Montour picked up his first NHL goal and assist and now has two points in 11 NHL games. He’s really coming along nicely this season and looks like he’s ready to be in the NHL on a full-time basis. Shea Theodore played in five of Anaheim’s 10 games but went scoreless. He’s struggled a bit this season but his future still looks bright. Ondrej Kase was a healthy scratch a couple of times but still played in eight games. He went scoreless but looked good next to Ryan Getzlaf. Kalle Kossila made his NHL debut in the loss to Edmonton. He played just under seven minutes in the game. Joseph Cramarossa continued his solid rookie season, picking up two points in nine games. Nick Ritchie failed to score any goals but did record three assists.
A few other things that caught my eye in the last 10 games. Despite not scoring as many points as I’d like, Getzlaf has really improved his play over the last 10 games. He’s controlling the puck well and creating scoring chances. His six points were good, but hopefully his point totals improve over the next 10 games. Corey Perry also played better, highlighted by a three point night against Buffalo. Nate Thompson finally returned from injury and made his season debut. He has played in nine straight games but has yet to record a point this season. Cam Fowler continued his strong play and remains one of Anaheim’s most consistent players. He scored one goal and four points, both second on the team to Lindholm. Korbinian Holzer played in only four games but scored his first goal as a Duck. Josh Manson only recorded one point in the last 10 games, but it was a big one, as he scored the gamewinning goal against the Kings.
On the injury front, Clayton Stoner is still out, as is Simon Despres. Despres was spotted at the Ducks game last night, so that could be a positive sign. Vatanen missed five games but has returned to the lineup. Thompson is healthy and back to centering the fourth line. He’s still not up to full speed, but hopefully will be soon.
Anaheim’s offense really needs to pick up. With the trade deadline about to land, it will be interesting to see if the Ducks are able to upgrade their offense. If not, the Ducks’ forward core is going to need to improve its play.
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February 20th, 2017