By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks struggled over the last 10 games but still managed to pick up 12 points by going 5-3-2 and find themselves in a playoff position. With just over 20 games left in the season, and a handful leading up to the trade deadline, the Ducks will need to be much more consistent going forward.
Anaheim’s best forward over the last 10 games was Ondrej Kase. He was tied for the team lead with five goals and was second with nine points. The line of Kase, Adam Henrique, and Nick Ritchie has easily been Anaheim’s best over the last several games, and Kase has been the most dangerous member of that trio. He’s now second on the team with 17 goals, and fourth on the team with 31 points. The former seventh-round pick has really come into his own this season and become a valuable member of Anaheim’s roster.
The Ducks’ best defenseman over the last 10 games was Cam Fowler. His best play over the last 10 games happened in overtime against Minnesota, when he blocked a shot at an empty net that would have assuredly led to an Anaheim loss. He led the defense with six assists and seven points and was one of two Anaheim defenseman to score a goal in the last 10.
Antoine Vermette was the worst forward over the last 10 games. He found himself a healthy scratch a couple of times, with Derek Grant taking his place in the lineup when he was out. Vermette is best known for his faceoff skills, and he did win well over 55% of them in the last 10 games. However, he went scoreless in the eight games he played in. Vermette is one of the few players who Anaheim may trade away leading up to the deadline. By scratching him a couple of times, I think the Ducks were seeing how they would do without him in the lineup.
Anaheim’s worst defenseman over the last 10 games was Kevin Bieksa. He’s struggled the entire year, and his turnover against Detroit really encapsulated his season. He threw the puck into the center of the defensive zone where Dylan Larkin was able to intercept it. Larkin went in alone against John Gibson and scored a pretty goal. The next game, Bieksa was out of the lineup, and rookie Marcus Pettersson was making his NHL debut.
In net, Gibson missed some time with injury and only started six games; Ryan Miller started the other four. Gibson played well in his six games, and if healthy, Anaheim’s record over the last 10 could have been better. Miller really struggled in his four starts and was pulled against Montreal, just over 10 minutes into the game. Reto Berra came in to finish that game up, but the hole was too deep and the Ducks lost.
Anaheim is relatively healthy right now. Ryan Kesler missed the most recent game against Minnesota, but he shouldn’t be out for long. He’s still dealing with issues from the surgery that kept him out through the first several months of the season, so it’s not a huge shock that he missed a game. Hopefully, Kesler will be healthy for the rest of the season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he missed a game or two every now and then down the stretch. Patrick Eaves is the only other player who is currently on IR, as Mike Liambas is healthy and was returned to San Diego. The good news is that Eaves was recently seen skating, but it’s still unknown if and when he’ll return to action.
Pettersson was the only Anaheim rookie to see any action over the last 10 games. He played in their two most recent games, wins over Chicago and Minnesota, and looked quite comfortable on the ice. He had a strong training camp and preseason, but he’s struggled at times with the Gulls, so it’s good to see him play so well in Anaheim. If he keeps playing like this, he could stay in the lineup over either Bieksa or Francois Beauchemin.
A few more things that caught my eye over the last 10 games. Despite only having one point in the last five games, Rickard Rakell led the team with 10 points in the last 10 games and was tied for the team lead in assists with six. Corey Perry was much better over the last 10 games, picking up eight points, including his second career four-assist game. Henrique had five goals and eight points and was one of Anaheim’s best players over the last 10 games. Ritchie played some of his best hockey of the season, scoring one goal and seven points. Chris Wagner, J.T. Brown, Grant, and Vermette all failed to record any points over the last 10 games. Hampus Lindholm was the only other Anaheim defenseman to score a goal and was second on the defense with four points. Ryan Getzlaf has been Anaheim’s best forward this season, but he was quiet over the last 10 games, scoring only one goal and four points. The line of Andrew Cogliano, Jakob Silfverberg, and Kesler were very quiet over the last 10 games, scoring only three goals and five points between them. They’ll need to be better down the stretch.
Right now, Anaheim’s third line is carrying the team, while their top two lines have gone relatively quiet in recent games. If they want to make the playoffs, their top forwards are going to need to play much better than they did over the last 10 games, especially Getzlaf and Kesler. The Ducks are finally healthy; now they need to play like it.
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February 19th, 2017