The Anaheim Ducks will return to action in a couple days against the Winnipeg Jets. Considering that the squad dropped a 5-1 decision to the Blues ahead of the All-Star break, it’s hard to avoid apprehension when it comes to this group.
The Ducks are 21-21-9 and frustration is setting in.
Just ask Ryan Getzlaf, who let loose a week ago after the Blues fiasco.
“Never in 14 years here have I had that feeling that we’re not going to compete on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ve had three-or-four game stretches where things didn’t go our way and maybe we didn’t have the group we wanted (because of injuries), but never for a consistent period like this.”
That consistent period has been a major problem, with the Ducks coming out of a catastrophic January.
Now is the time for this franchise to face hard truths. They have to join their Californian comrades, the Los Angeles Kings, and figure out what’s going on from the inside out.
For starters, the Ducks aren’t scoring enough. That’s obvious. They are among the worst NHL teams at even strength, their power play is dreadful and their shooting percentage is in the basement.
The struggles are teamwide. Look at Rickard Rakell, who emerged as a scoring darling three seasons ago and is now sitting with just eight goals in 38 games. His shooting percentage is a career-worst 7.6. Getzlaf leads the team with 33 points, while Adam Henrique is second with 27 points in 51 games.
For leading scorer totals, those numbers are really low. Even Arizona’s Clayton Keller, who fronts the Coyotes in scoring, has 35 points by now.
In fairness, injuries. No team has lost as many man games to injury as the Ducks.
The team is without Corey Perry, although he took part in practice a week ago. It’s possible he could be back in the lineup by late February, but that may be a case of too little too late. Ryan Kesler is likewise on the shelf, along with goalie Ryan Miller, Jakob Silfverberg, Patrick Eaves, and Ondrej Kase. Also, Cam Fowler is a question mark for Saturday’s game against the Jets.
Throw in the fact that goalie John Gibson has been playing far, far too many games and maybe at this point it should surprise us that the Ducks are hanging in there at all.
Anaheim has a third of its cap space tied up in three players – Getzlaf, Kesler, Perry – and two of them are out of action. They’re all north of 33, which doesn’t bode well for the future. And, for the record, those contracts are lasting deals with plenty of term remaining.
Honestly, this whole thing could go belly up before long. While Anaheim is in the race for the post-season, it won’t take much to miss the mark. What comes next may be mysterious, but something’s got to give in this unsustainable situation.
(Photo credit: NHL)