By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks are still struggling with consistency, but there have been signs of improvement over the last 10 games. Overall, the Ducks had a record of 6-4 and picked up 12 points. The Ducks are currently in a three-way battle with Calgary and Edmonton for second in the Pacific Division. If the Ducks want home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, they’ll need to have a strong finish in their final 12 games of the season.
Best And Worst Players
Anaheim’s best forward over the last 10 games was Ryan Getzlaf. He led the team in assists with 10 and points with 15, and also scored two powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal. Besides putting together his best offensive stretch of the season, Getzlaf was also a dominant player whenever he stepped on the ice. He controlled the play when he had the puck, and disrupted the opposition when they had the puck. If he can continue this kind of play into the playoffs, the Ducks will have an excellent chance to go deep in the postseason.
The worst forward over the last 10 games was
The worst forward over the last 10 games was Logan Shaw. He did record two assists but did not score any goals. He was also a healthy scratch in the Ducks’ win over St. Louis. In his place, Nate Thompson, Chris Wagner, and Jared Boll formed a physical fourth line. I’d rather see Shaw in the lineup over Boll, but in the last 10 games, Shaw was largely a non-factor.
The Ducks’ best defensemen in the last 10 games was Josh Manson. While he doesn’t put up the points the way some of his teammates do, Manson has been a strong defensive presence all season long and has been even better recently. He’s also one of the best hitters on Anaheim, and is one of two players on the team with over 200 hits this year and is top 10 in the NHL in hits. More importantly than the number of hits he has is his timing when he makes them. He rarely puts himself out of position when he makes a hit, and when he does, he makes sure he gets back into the play and disrupts any chances for the other team. As an added bonus, he also scored a goal, one of two Anaheim defensemen to score in the last 10 games.
Anaheim’s worst defensemen over the last 10 games was
Anaheim’s worst defensemen over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. He was actually tied for the defensive lead with four assists, giving him 10 points on the season. He isn’t even Anaheim’s worst defensemen on a nightly basis, but his play is just wildly inconsistent. Some nights, he has a solid game, and other nights, he looks like a rookie who can’t keep up with NHL speed.
In net, John Gibson only started one game, as he suffered a 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues. He’s got a lower-body injury and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to go. With Gibson out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped in and played very well for the Ducks. He started nine games and had a 6-3 record. He allowed only three power play goals against in those nine games and 19 goals overall. His best game in that stretch and probably his best game of the season was when he shutout the Blackhawks in Chicago. Chicago launched 43 shots his way, including 17 shots combined from Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa, and he stopped every single one. He’s had an inconsistent season, but with Gibson out, he’s really stepped up his game.
Rookies And Young Guns
On the rookies and young player front, Anaheim continued to get contributions from them. Nick Ritchie scored a goal and five points. His goal scoring has dried up recently, but it’s good to see him picking up more assists. Nic Kerdiles made his NHL debut against Boston and played just over 11 minutes in the contest. He failed to record any points and has since returned to the AHL. If he has a strong finish to the season and is healthy going into next season, he should see a lot more playing time with the Ducks next year. Ondrej Kase played in eight games and scored a goal and two points. He’s been up and down the lineup this season, playing on the top line some nights and the fourth line in other games. He often has a jump in his step and likes to put the puck on net, two good qualities for the young forward. Brandon Montour played in six games and went scoreless. Even though he didn’t pick up any points, the NHL experience should be invaluable for him going forward.
Rakell Continues To Deliver
A few other things that caught my eye over the last 10 games. Rickard Rakell is scoring at a torrid pace, as he picked up eight goals and nine points in the last 10 games. His eight goals easily led the team, and his nine points were second only to Getzlaf. He has now scored 30 goals for the first time in his career. Corey Perry has struggled throughout the season, but he did have six points in the last 10 games. Ryan Kesler has been in a bit of a goal scoring drought lately, but he did score his 20th of the season against Washington. Patrick Eaves has fit in nicely next to Getzlaf and Rakell and has scored two goals and four points in the eight games he’s played in since being acquired from Dallas. Since the Ducks lost Joseph Cramarossa to waivers, Wagner has been back in Anaheim and had two points in six games. He’s a physical player who has also seen some time on the penalty kill unit. Corey Tropp was called up from San Diego and played in one game for the Ducks. Nate Thompson played in all 10 games but didn’t score any points. However, he’s looking more comfortable on the ice and he’s been improving since making his season debut a few weeks ago. Antoine Vermette finished his 10 game suspension and suited up for the last two games. Sami Vatanen led the defense in scoring with five points and also picked up a goal, his first even strength goal of the season. Offensively, both Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm were quiet over the 10 games. Neither scored a goal and they combined for four assists, but both continue to play well defensively. Both are going to need to step up as the regular season winds down and the playoffs begin.
On the injury front, Clayton Stoner and Simon Despres continue to be out. Ritchie missed a couple of games with a minor injury, but still played in eight of the previous 10 games. Gibson missed some time before Anaheim’s bye week. He returned in the loss to St. Louis and hasn’t played since. His new injury is unrelated to his previous injury.
The Ducks were very quiet at the trade deadline, as the only major move they made was bringing in Eaves a few days prior. He’s fit in nicely, but it’s unlikely that he’s the answer to Anaheim’s goal scoring woes. With no help coming from a trade, Anaheim’s forwards will have to collectively step up and start scoring more. Getzlaf and Rakell have been able to do that; hopefully, the rest of the team will follow their lead.
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March 17th, 2017