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Ducks December Review
By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks had an up and down month of December. Things started off great as Anaheim won six of seven contests, but they dropped their final six games of the month, four of those in regulation. Overall, the Ducks played in 13 games and went 6-5-2 for 14 points. That losing streak has put the Ducks outside of the top three in the Pacific and battling for one of the Wild Card spots in the West.
Most of Anaheim’s wins in December were of the come-from-behind variety, but none were bigger than the first game of the month. The Ducks had traveled to Washington to take on the Capitals. Midway through the second period, Ryan Getzlaf had scored, but Anaheim trailed 5-1. Things looked decidedly ugly and it looked like this would end up being one of Anaheim’s worst games of the month. But Andrew Cogliano scored and Rickard Rakell scored about a minute apart to make it a 5-3 game. In the third, Pontus Aberg and Hampus Lindholm scored powerplay goals to tie the game up before the period was halfway over. Then, with just over five minutes left in regulation, Aberg scored his second goal of the period to make it 6-5. Ryan Miller picked up his 374th career victory in this game, tying him with John Vanbiesbrouck for the most wins by a U.S. born goaltender in NHL history. It was one of the best comebacks in Anaheim’s history.
Anaheim’s worst game of December was their 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers. The Ducks had defeated the Penguins the night before, and Chad Johnson was getting his first start in net for Anaheim. Aberg put the Ducks on top in the second period, but the third period was owned by the Rangers, a team out of the playoff picture in the East. Halfway through the period, New York tied the game. Anaheim was given a powerplay late in regulation, and it looked like things would go to overtime, that is, if Anaheim wasn’t able to outright win the game with the man advantage. Instead, with 40 seconds left to go in the game, the Rangers scored a shorthanded goal to take a 2-1 lead and then scored an empty-net goal 21 seconds later. In the third, Anaheim recorded only one shot on goal, while the Rangers had 14. Part of that can be attributed to a long road trip and the third game being played in four nights, but there is no excuse for losing this game in regulation. That loss was the first in Anaheim’s current six-game skid.
On the special teams front, Anaheim didn’t have a great month. The Ducks had 36 opportunities with the man advantage and scored only five goals. Daniel Sprong, Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Aberg, and Lindholm scored those five goals, while Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Silfverberg, Sprong, Henrique, and Lindholm led the team with two powerplay points each. Ryan Getzlaf and Brandon Montour failed to record any powerplay points, and Ryan Kesler had only one assist with the man advantage. Anaheim found itself shorthanded 45 times and allowed nine powerplay goals. John Gibson, usually very reliable while the team was down a man, allowed eight of those powerplay goals, and Miller allowed the other. Silfverberg did score a shorthanded goal, Anaheim’s first of the season.
Second Losing Streak
Anaheim is in the midst of their second major losing streak of the season. Amazingly enough, they can still make the playoffs, but they need to play like they did to start off December and not how they finished the month. The good news is that Anaheim is currently in the middle of a lengthy homestand, and the Ducks are usually a very good home team. Hopefully, they can use the rest of these home games to help right the ship and get this season back on track.
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January 3rd, 2019