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10 Game Review: Games 1-10
By Thomas Harrington
One game isn’t enough time to evaluate how good or bad a team or a player is. With this in mind, I’ll be doing two different review series: one that will focus on individual players on the Ducks, and one that will focus on the team overall.
Every 10 games, I’ll break down how well the players have done. I’ll look at who I think was the best forward and defenseman during those games, as well as which forward and defenseman have struggled the most, and how Anaheim’s rookies are doing. I’ll also discuss the goaltenders, go over any injuries, and mention anything else that caught my eye.
For the other review, every month I’ll take a look back at how the team is performing overall. I’ll name Anaheim’s best and worst games of the month, examine how the special teams are doing, and anything else that seems relevant at the time.
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For the last couple of seasons, Anaheim has dealt with a plethora of injuries to start the year off. This year, the Ducks have been largely healthy. There are only two players out of the lineup long-term, and both Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves have long been expected to miss the entire season; their absence is not a surprise. With no Kesler, no Eaves, and no Corey Perry, the Ducks are the youngest team in franchise history, and that has led to a much more exciting team to watch this year. Few expect the Ducks to make the playoffs this year, so their good start has been a surprise to some. Overall, the Ducks have a 6-4 record through 10 games and have been almost unbeatable at home.
Best Forward Line
Rather than name one forward as the team’s best, I’m going to instead name Anaheim’s top line as the best forwards on the team: Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell. Those three have teamed up to score 13 of Anaheim’s 24 goals. Henrique and Silfverberg lead the team with five goals each, while Silfverberg’s eight points leads the team, Rakell is second with seven, and Henrique is tied for third with six. They have easily been the most dangerous and most consistent line for the Ducks early in the season.
Anaheim’s best defenseman to start the season has been Cam Fowler. He leads Anaheim’s defense with two goals and his five points are second, but more important than his offensive numbers has been his overall play. He’s been jumping up into the rush frequently and getting back and disrupting the opposition’s chances. Last season was a rough one for him, but he’s rebounded nicely in the team’s first 10 games.
The Ducks’ worst forward early in the season has been Nick Ritchie. He’s actually had some good games and had some great chances against Calgary. He’s not taking as many bad penalties as he has in previous years, but he’s still taken some dumb penalties and has already been fined for one of them. Also, with how young this team is, Ritchie is now one of Anaheim’s veterans and he needs to do a better job of leading by example. He did that against Calgary, but it hasn’t happened often enough, leading to him being scratched twice this season.
The worst defenseman for Anaheim has been Josh Manson. Similar to Fowler, he really struggled last season. The good news is that he hasn’t been as bad as last year, not even close, however, he does need to be better. He and Hampus Lindholm represent Anaheim’s top defensive pair, and at times they’ve looked great. However, at other times, both have been out of position and gotten turned around, Manson especially. The good news is that he’s playing better than last year, so hopefully, he can get back to the level of play that made him one of Anaheim’s top defenders a couple years ago.
Between The Pipes
In net, John Gibson has started eight of 10 games and been great in almost all of them. His only really bad game was in the team’s recent loss to Nashville. Even with that game in mind, I’d still call him the team’s early season MVP. The Ducks are playing better than last year, but he’s still having to make some great saves every night. Ryan Miller has only started two games, and he won both. He also came in for relief to finish up the Nashville game. Just like last season, he’s a solid backup who the Ducks can trust to give them a chance to win every game he plays in.
On the injury front, the only player currently out is Brendan Guhle. He looked great paired with Fowler, but he’s missed the last several games. Hopefully, he’s back in the lineup soon. Other than Guhle, the Ducks are very healthy. Sam Steel missed a few games near the start of the season, but he’s back in the lineup and playing very well. Recent draft pick Brayden Tracey was injured sometime during the preseason. He stayed in Anaheim for treatment, but has since returned to the WHL and is averaging over a point-per-game with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Rookies Struggling To Score
Anaheim’s rookies haven’t scored much this season, but they are getting their chances and playing very well overall. Technically, because of games played last year, Max Jones and Troy Terry do not count as rookies, but I don’t count either among Anaheim’s veterans and they will be talked about with the actual rookies. Steel and Guhle both have two assists, while Terry has a goal, Jones has an assist, Max Comtois has an assist, and Isac Lundestrom was scoreless in three games.
Their lack of scoring isn’t a huge concern for me, they are all learning and adjusting to the NHL. Both Steel and Terry have looked ready to break out at times, while Jones’ physical play shows that he could find a home in the NHL long-term even if he doesn’t develop into a scorer. Comtois has looked a little out of sorts at times, but part of that is because he’s played a lot with Ryan Getzlaf. Once he gets used to receiving pucks when they shouldn’t get to him, I think he’ll start scoring some goals. Guhle has looked like a top-four defenseman in the four games that he’s played. Lundestrom was only up because Steel was injured. Of Anaheim’s rookies, he’s the one who definitely needs more time in the AHL, and that’s where I expect him to be for most of this season.
A few other things that caught my eye over the season’s first 10 games. First, Lindholm leads the entire team with six assists. Like the rest of the team, his offensive numbers took a big dip last season, so him putting up so many assists early on is encouraging. Korbinian Holzer played in eight games but went scoreless. However, he actually had a number of high-quality scoring chances, especially in the game against Buffalo.
Ondrej Kase is second on the team with 25 shots, but only has one goal to show for it. He’s a player who looks ready to just break out. Derek Grant has only scored one goal and two points, but he’s been one of Anaheim’s better forwards to start the season. He’s been great on the penalty kill unit and really helped solidify the team’s fourth line. Jacob Larsson played almost 50 games last season but looked overmatched on the ice at times. This year, he’s looked much more comfortable on the ice and been a consistent presence on the team’s bottom pairing.
The Ducks are a young, exciting team. At times, they are going to be overmatched and at times they are going to score a ton of goals. It’s hard to get a read on how good or bad this team really is so far, but the early returns have been promising. Regardless of how this season turns out, the Ducks have been a fun team to watch through 10 games and will hopefully continue to be through the rest of the season.
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October 23rd, 2019