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Ducks Monthly Review: November
By Thomas Harrington
After a solid October, the Ducks struggled in the month of November. They played in 13 games, had a record of 3-6-4, and earned 10 points. Special teams continue to be an issue, and while the Ducks can usually count on elite goaltending, neither John Gibson nor Ryan Miller had a great second month of the season.
Anaheim’s Best Win
With only three wins in November, the Ducks didn’t have a ton of great games, but the team’s best game this past month was their most recent win, a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders. A year ago, the Islanders were a surprise team to make the playoffs, largely because they had lost John Tavares to free agency. This year, it’s not a surprise to see them in the playoff hunt, but it has been a surprise to see them be one of the best two or three teams in the league. The Islanders came into this game on a 15-0-2 streak. That 17 game point streak was a franchise record, which is incredible considering the dynasty the Islanders were in the early 80s.
Coming into this game, the Ducks had lost their previous three games, including a 5-4 overtime loss to Florida where they held a 4-0 lead. Following the team’s loss to Tampa Bay, Ryan Getzlaf called out the Ducks for their lack of effort, and he backed those words up by scoring the first goal against the Islanders in the second period. In the third, he set up Cam Fowler to make it 2-0, and Ondrej Kase made it 3-0 a minute later. More importantly than the goals, was how well Anaheim played through the entire contest. It was probably the team’s most complete game that they’ve played all season. Gibson stopped all 26 shots that he faced, recording his first shutout of the season.
Anaheim’s Worst Loss
Anaheim’s worst loss in November was their 4-2 loss to Minnesota early in the month. The Wild have had a rough season and were one of the worst teams in the league coming into this game; they had lost their last five games on the road. The Ducks were on the fourth game of a seven-game homestand, and they’d won two of the first three. Neither team scored in the first period, but Rickard Rakell made it 1-0 early in the second, and Jacob Larsson scored his first career NHL goal to make it 2-0 less than 30 seconds later. Things were looking good for the Ducks, but Minnesota made it 2-1 before the period was over. The Ducks had a powerplay late in the second that carried over into the third.
However, as has been the case for most of the season, they failed to score on it. Making matters even worse, Mats Zuccarello stepped out of the penalty box, went on a breakaway, and tied the game. Anaheim’s failure on the powerplay and then immediately giving up a goal was the turning point of this game and may end up being the turning point of this season. A few minutes later Eric Staal scored to give the Wild the lead, and Zach Parise sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.
Special Teams Continue To Struggle
Anaheim’s special teams were not good in November. After scoring only three powerplay goals in October, the Ducks scored a mere four powerplay goals this past month on 38 chances. They now have seven on the season, last in the NHL. Jakob Silfverberg, Sam Steel, Nick Ritchie, and Rackell were the four players who scored a powerplay goal, while Steel, Rackell, and Fowler all led the team with two powerplay points each. Anaheim’s penalty kill wasn’t much better. The Ducks were shorthanded 41 times and allowed 11 powerplay goals. Gibson allowed six of those and Miller allowed five.
Anaheim’s penalty kill struggled especially against Tampa Bay, giving up three goals to one of the better offensive teams in the league. The one bit of good news is that Anaheim did score three shorthanded goals in November, as Derek Grant scored twice while the team was down a man and Silverberg scored the other. Grant also led the way with two shorthanded points.
There Is Still Time
There’s still time for the Ducks to turn this season around and make the playoffs, but a rough November has made that a much more difficult task. December is going to be the month that could really determine what kind of season this is going to be. If they put up only three more wins, their season is almost assuredly done. However, if they can play better and put several more wins on the board, then Anaheim could be right back in the playoff hunt.
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December 1st, 2019