By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks are finally healthy, and while they are still struggling in some games, they’ve been much better on the ice over the last 10 games. Overall, the Ducks went 6-3-0-1 and picked up 13 points. Despite the myriad of injuries the Ducks have had this season, they actually find themselves just outside of the playoffs at the All-Star Break.
Anaheim’s best forward over the last 10 games was Ryan Getzlaf. He led the team with seven assists and 11 points, and his four goals were tied for second. Beyond that, in almost every game he played, he was a dominant force on the ice and just took over the game. Since getting healthy, he’s one of the primary reasons for Anaheim’s improved play. Despite missing almost half the season, he leads the Ducks in assists and is second in points.
The Ducks’ best defenseman over the last 10 games was Josh Manson. Despite failing to score any goals, his six assists led the defense and were second only to Getzlaf’s seven. His six total points were also tied for the lead among defensemen. He’s appeared in every game this season; his 20 assists lead the defense and are second on the team. Over the last 10 games, he played over 20 minutes nine times and was a solid defensive presence every time he stepped on the ice.
Anaheim’s worst forward over the last 10 games was Corey Perry, who scored two goals and three points over that span. He’s struggled through most of the season but has been worse in recent weeks. He was even demoted to the fourth line just a few games ago. Perry has actually been better since his demotion, which could be a result of going against fewer top-end defensemen or just being fresher because of his decreased ice time. Two of his three points did come in the recent victory against the Rangers, so hopefully, that’s a sign of him turning his season around.
The Ducks’ worst defenseman over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. He went scoreless over the last 10 games and had a team worst -6 rating. Bieksa can be a serviceable veteran, but I think he has been pushed into too much ice time this season. In six of the last 10 games, he played over 19 minutes and broke the 20-minute mark three times. He’d probably play better on the bottom pair but has been getting top-four minutes more often than not since Sami Vatanen was traded.
In net, John Gibson started eight games while Ryan Miller started two. Gibson picked up four wins, while Miller won two. In Anaheim’s most recent win, Gibson was the starter but left the game late in the third. Miller stepped in, faced no shots in regulation or overtime, and stopped five shooters in the shootout, picking up the win despite recording no saves. Miller also picked up a shutout victory when Anaheim dominated Vancouver 5-0.
Anaheim is incredibly healthy right now; only Patrick Eaves and Mike Liambas are out of the lineup. There still isn’t any update on Eaves, and Liambas will return to San Diego whenever he gets healthy. The only other player who could be injured is Gibson, but he’s hopefully okay after getting run into in the victory over Winnipeg.
Kevin Roy was the only rookie to appear in any games over the last 10. He appeared in two and went scoreless. With Anaheim’s roster healthy, there just isn’t a lot of room for any rookies. Instead, San Diego has been heavily reinforced in recent weeks and is playing better overall as a result.
A few more things that caught my eye over the last 10 games. Getzlaf led the team with over a point per game over the last 10 games, but Ondrej Kase was second, averaging exactly a point per game with seven points in seven games. His seven points were tied for second on the team. He’s now second on the team in goals with 12, despite appearing in only 34 games. Adam Henrique continues to fit in nicely; he led the Ducks in goals with five, and also recorded seven points. All-Star Rickard Rakell also recorded seven points, picking up four goals and three assists. Hampus Lindholm was the only defensemen to score a goal and was tied for the defensive lead in points with six. Ryan Kesler only had four points, but they were all goals, and he’s been starting to look like the Selke nominee from a year ago. Nick Ritchie has struggled this season, but scored a goal and four points and has looked much better in recent games. JT Brown has fit in nicely since being claimed on waivers and has three points in six games with the Ducks. His speed has really impressed me since he joined the team. Korbinian Holzer played in three games, letting the Ducks rest Francois Beauchemin.
Given the number of injuries the Ducks have had, being almost in a playoff position 50 games into the season speaks to the depth of this team. With the stars back, it’s time for them to start carrying this team and not waste the effort level the team put forth over the first half of the season.
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January 29th, 2018