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Anaheim October Review
By Thomas Harrington
After a decent start to the season, Anaheim struggled to close out the month of October, losing their final six games of the month. Overall, the Ducks have a record of 5-6-2 and find themselves out of the playoff picture. For the second season in a row, the Ducks have dealt with an absurd number of injuries. But unlike last year, Anaheim has been struggling to keep up with their opponents, and have found themselves severely outshot practically on a nightly basis.
Despite the five wins, the Ducks didn’t have very many great or even good games in the first month of the season. Anaheim’s best game was their 4-1 victory of the New York Islanders. As with most games this season, Anaheim was outshot, but the Ducks controlled play through most of this contest. Ryan Kesler scored a powerplay goal late in the first to give the Ducks the lead, and Anaheim never looked back. In the second, Kesler scored his second goal of the game to double the lead, and in the third Adam Henrique made it 3-0 less than a minute into the final frame. The Islanders were unable to get many great chances, but a deflected puck did find its way past John Gibson with 35 seconds left in the game. Hampus Lindholm then salted the game away with an empty net goal. From beginning to end, this was Anaheim’s most complete effort this season and they really earned the victory in this one.
The Ducks have had a number of bad games to open the season, but in my mind, there was none worse than the first loss to Dallas. This should have been an Anaheim victory. Things started out great, with Jakob Silfverberg getting the scoring started in the first. A few minutes later, Kiefer Sherwood scored his first career NHL goal, and Isac Lundestrom got his first career assist on the goal. In the second period, things started out well enough, as Adam Henrique scored a powerplay goal on a pretty feed from Sam Steel, which was his first NHL point. Two rookies had their first point, another had his first goal, and the Ducks had a 3-0 lead halfway through the second. Unfortunately, that’s where things fell apart. In the second period, it was pretty much all Dallas.
Other than the powerplay goal by Henrique, the Ducks didn’t do much offensively, and Dallas started their comeback effort with a goal just over halfway through the period. A couple minutes later, it was 3-2. Nine seconds later, the game was tied. Finally, before the period expired, the Stars had taken the 4-3 lead. Anaheim was outshot 30-4 in the middle frame, far and away Anaheim’s worst period of the season. Things were so bad that Gibson was pulled after the second period. He was Anaheim’s best player through two periods, but he was exhausted and he was pulled in order to give him a break, not because he played poorly. Ryan Miller filled in admirably in the third period, but the Ducks couldn’t get back on the board, and the Stars won the game 5-3. Anaheim was outshot 51-25 in the game.
On the special teams front, the theme for both the power play and penalty kill is that both started the season out very well, but both have struggled as the season has gone along. Anaheim’s power play has scored six goals on 33 chances. That 18.2% ranked Anaheim 19th in the league on the power play. Anaheim scored among the fewest powerplay goals in the league, but they received fewer powerplays than most other teams, so that’s to be expected. However, the Ducks did give up three shorthanded goals in October, something that needs to significantly change going forward. Henrique led the team with two powerplay goals, while Kesler, Andrew Cogliano, Pontus Aberg, and Rickard Rakell scored the other power play goals. Rakell led the team with three powerplay points.
The penalty kill fared a little better, killing off 79.5% of the times Anaheim was shorthanded, good enough for 14th in the league. The Ducks were shorthanded 44 times and gave up nine powerplay goals while not scoring any shorthanded goals.
Anaheim had a rough start to the season. Between injuries and inconsistent play, the Ducks have found themselves out of the playoff picture as November comes around. The good news is that it’s still early in the season and if the Ducks can turn things around quickly, they should be just fine.
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November 1st, 2018