By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks didn’t have a great month in February, but they did manage to finish two games above .500, going 6-4-3 and picking up 15 points. The Ducks had a chance to really have a great month, but they stumbled in the final weekend, losing to Arizona and Edmonton.
The Ducks had a couple of great games in February, but Anaheim’s best game was their 2-0 shutout win over the Vegas Golden Knights. In a twist that no one saw coming, Vegas will win the Pacific Division in their inaugural season, and have a legitimate shot at winning the Western Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy. They’ve been one of the best home teams all season, losing only six games in regulation all season. John Gibson and Ryan Miller pitched a combined shutout, the second time that’s happened in franchise history. Jakob Silfverberg scored the game-winning goal in the first, and Josh Manson scored the insurance marker in the third. Ryan Getzlaf had a monster performance on the ice, showing why he’s still considered one of the premier centers in the league.
No question, the Ducks’ worst game in February was their 2-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have been the worst team in the NHL all season, and while the parity in the NHL is seemingly at an all-time high, getting shutout by a team who hasn’t cracked the 50 point mark is inexcusable. Making the game even worse was how little offensive pressure the Ducks created in comparison to the Coyotes. Arizona had 38 shots on goal, while the Ducks only had 26. Antti Raanta does deserve credit for not allowing any goals, but with their playoff lives on the line, this was a game that the Ducks should not have lost. They needed to at least get the game to overtime and get a point in this one.
Anaheim didn’t have a ton of powerplay opportunities in February. They only had 33 chances with the man advantage in 13 games and scored six goals. In fact, against Vegas, they didn’t even get a single powerplay. Corey Perry led the team with two powerplay goals, while Adam Henrique, Ondrej Kase, Rickard Rakell, and Hampus Lindholm scored the others. Perry and Getzlaf led the team with three powerplay points each.
The Ducks’ penalty kill unit struggled at the beginning of February, but it was superb at the end of the month. The Ducks were shorthanded a total of 42 times and allowed eight powerplay goals. Miller allowed five of those goals, while Reto Berra let in two and Gibson just one. Getzlaf scored the Ducks’ lone shorthanded goal in February, and it was a beauty. In what I consider the sequence of the year, the Ducks killed off a five on three powerplays for nearly two full minutes. Upon exiting the box and making it a four on five penalty kill, Getzlaf flipped the puck from Anaheim’s own zone all the way into Dallas’s end. He then outskated the opposition, beat Ben Bishop to the free puck, and scored to put the Ducks up 2-0.
Anaheim finished up the month of February by having a very quiet trade deadline, sending Chris Wagner to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera. The message from Bob Murray is clear: the onus is on the team to perform better; no one is coming in to save the season. Against Dallas and Vegas, the Ducks have shown that they can do what needs to be done. Even though they lost to Edmonton, the Ducks showed that they are never out of a game and are always dangerous. However, the losses to Arizona, Detroit, and Montreal show that this team still has some issues to work through. With 14 games in March, the Ducks are going to need to put forth a solid effort every night in order to make the playoffs.
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March 1st, 2018