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Ducks October Review
By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks had a strong start to the season but struggled during a four-game road trip near the end of October. However, they’ve won two of their last three games and have a record of 8-6-0 through 14 games. A lot of people thought the Ducks would be among the worst teams in the league this season, but they are very much in the playoff picture through the first month of play.
Anaheim Showed Their Compete Level In Colorado
Anaheim had a number of great games in October, but none were bigger than their 5-2 win over Colorado. The Ducks came into the game on a three-game losing streak, the first time this season Anaheim had lost consecutive games. Colorado was the top team in the West and arguably the best team in the league and had not lost in regulation at home. The Ducks were without one of their top defensemen in this game, as Josh Manson had been injured in the previous loss to Dallas.
Less than a minute into the game, Rickard Rakell made a great play to set up Adam Henrique for the early 1-0 lead, and the Ducks never looked back. Halfway through the period, Carter Rowney doubled the lead to 2-0. In the second, Colorado’s vaunted powerplay came alive, making the game 2-1. However, Anaheim’s powerplay responded, as Ryan Getzlaf restored the two-goal lead. In the third, Nathan MacKinnon scored a powerplay goal to make it 3-2. That goal gave him a point in 11 straight games to start the season. The Ducks were able to respond again. This time, it was rookie Max Comtois scoring his second goal of the season to put Anaheim up 4-2. Late in the game, Colorado pulled their goaltender and Jakob Silfverberg made a great play to score into the empty net to seal up the win.
Hampus Lindholm was Anaheim’s best player in this game. He recorded three assists and was a force in all three zones on the ice. This game also marked the Anaheim debut of Erik Gudbranson. He had a solid first outing with his new team, logging over 22 minutes of ice time and playing alongside Lindholm.
Ducks Continue To Struggle Against Vegas
The Ducks had a couple of really poor outings in October, but the worst was easily their loss to Vegas. The team looked as bad as they did at the lowest points of last season. Outshot 49 to 15, the Ducks are lucky they didn’t get blown out of the water in this one.
John Gibson was easily Anaheim’s best player, stopping 44 shots in the 5-2 loss. The Ducks were once again without Manson, but Lindholm was out as well. Without their top pair, and two of their top three defensemen, Anaheim’s defense looked like a mess. Coming into this season, there were question marks around the Ducks’ defensive core, but Cam Fowler, Lindholm, and Manson have all played well and really led the team. But with two of them out, the team’s defensive depth was really tested in this one.
The game actually started out well enough, as Comtois fed Getzlaf for the early 1-0 lead, but the game fell apart after that. Less than a minute later, Fowler tried to clear the puck but ended up scoring an own goal to tie the game. By the time the first was over, it was 3-1. Vegas made it 4-1 in the second, and they scored their fifth goal early in the third. Troy Terry fed Henrique for a nice goal to give the Ducks a little bit to celebrate in the final frame, but it was too little too late to mount a comeback in this one.
Anaheim’s special teams weren’t exactly special in October. The powerplay, in particular, has not been good, though it has shown signs of life in recent games. Overall, the Ducks scored three powerplay goals on 32 chances. Getzlaf led the way with two powerplay goals, and Comtois scored the other. Sam Steel led the team with two powerplay assists, and both Getzlaf and Steel led the team with two powerplay points each. Anaheim has been shorthanded 49 times this season and allowed 10 powerplay goals against. Gibson allowed seven of those, while Ryan Miller allowed the other three.
Anaheim’s penalty kill was stellar through the first several games, but it’s gotten worse as the season has gone on. It has really struggled in particular on the road. The Ducks allowed five of their 10 powerplay goals against during their recent four-game road trip. The Ducks scored two shorthanded goals in October, with Rowney and Silfverberg scoring while the Ducks were down a man. Rakell and Lindholm assisted on both of those goals to lead the team in shorthanded assists and points.
The Ducks are a young team, the youngest that they’ve had in franchise history. Some games, like in the loss to Vegas, Anaheim looks like a young team, but in others, like the victory over Colorado, they look like a legitimate playoff threat. To me, the playoffs would be nice, but the true goal of this season is to watch Anaheim’s young talent grow and improve. They didn’t have the best opening month of the season as the Ducks were primarily led by their veterans, but the Ducks’ youthful players did play well and we saw improvement from them as the month went on. Hopefully, we see them make a bigger impact in November and through the rest of the season. If they can do that, then the Ducks will absolutely be in the hunt for a playoff spot as the season winds down.
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October 31st, 2019