Back in January, I wrote about the lack of sustainability for the Anaheim Ducks. And with their official elimination from playoff hockey on Tuesday, the frustration is more palpable than ever.
For Anaheim, this is the first time they’ve failed to make the playoffs in seven seasons. Previously, they won five straight Pacific Division titles.
Now, the reality is clear: these Ducks aren’t scoring.
In fact, Anaheim is downright bottoming out. The club is tied for the cellar in terms of goals scored, right there with the Los Angeles Kings. And if you can spot the common qualities of these California-based clubs, have a cookie.
In 44 of 78 games this season, the Ducks have scored two or fewer goals. They’ve been shut out nine times and Ryan Getzlaf, the team’s scoring leader, has just 47 points – the second-lowest totals for a leading scorer on any NHL team. Only Arizona’s Clayton Keller has fewer points and still leads the club, although the Coyotes have more goals overall and are still in the picture.
The Ducks average just 2.33 goals for per game, which is not a fluke considering they produce the lowest shots total in the league – just 27.5 per game, with the New York Islanders just above them with 28.4 a game.
This lack of offensive competence has led to long losing streaks. The Ducks hit streaks of at least seven losses in a row three times this season. In December to January, they lost a dozen.
What’s more, the power play is bad and the penalty kill is bad.
There are some positives. The Ducks win faceoffs, placing in the top five. That drives possession and generates offensive zone starts, which can lead to shots if…you take shots.
And there’s youth in Anaheim. Now would be a good time to start taking a closer look at skaters like Troy Terry and Sam Steel. The latter, along with having the coolest name in the world, scored a hat trick against Vancouver Tuesday. Max Comtois should also see a boost in playing time. He has seven points in 10 games.
Is there a way out for the Ducks? Absolutely. But things have to change and that starts with creating a new, fresh approach to the game. Like the Kings, it’s long past time for Anaheim to reinvent themselves. And there’s no better time to start than now.
(Photo credit: NHL)