Monday, October 29, 2007


What's Wrong with the Ducks?

by Jes

The Anaheim Ducks, defending cup champs, have opened up the new season in a horrible slump. Slumps are typical for clubs over the course of the year, but it is odd to see the likes of the Blue Jackets doing well while the Anaheim Ducks are looking up from the basement.

How is it that the Ducks are off to a 4-7-2 start? Here are some thoughts from a Canucks fan who doesn't mind that the Ducks are doing poorly. :)

1. Hits to the roster? Many people point the finger at the losses of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer (a guy who takes 25 minutes to decide if he wants large fries with his Big Mac) as the prime reason the Ducks are losing more than the Washington Generals. Look, it's not as if Burke did nothing to stem the tide. Signing Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider certainly proved that the Ducks weren't sitting idle, and both players certainly are talented. Going into the season, did anyone reasonably think the Ducks were a vastly weaker team?

2. Health concerns - We certainly can't discount the fatigue factor when talking about the Ducks slow start. A long Stanley Cup run, combined with a 2-game stint in England, has certainly had to have a real effect on the stamina of the Ducks, who like to play a physical brand of hockey. If we look at the performance of recent cup winners during the follow-up season, we can see a heavy drop in those teams' records. Just look at how the Canes missed the playoffs completely.

Let's not forget the injury bug has hit the Ducks, especially Mathieu Schneider, the prized signing who has yet to play a single game this season thanks to a broken ankle.

3. Discipline - While the Ducks ground-and-pound thug-life style was prized for helping them to win the cup, it's also causing them a whole lot of grief. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs have been shorthanded more times than the Ducks (68, overall), and the Ducks PK unit is struggling at 80.9%, 16th in the NHL. Last season, the roles were reversed, with the Ducks middle-of-the-road in shorthanded situations and near the top in PK efficiency. Obviously, the Ducks are shooting themselves in the webbed foot.

That said, there are quite a few players that have been playing well below expectations.

Todd Bertuzzi - 7 games, 2 points and a -2 before suffering another injury to his inflated ego. Bertuzzi was given the golden parachute by Brian Burke, and has nothing to motivate him into playing like the man-beast he was with the Canucks.

Andy McDonald - Many suggested that his huge spike in production had to do with playing on the same line with a rejuvenated Teemu Selanne. While I think both players meshed with each other very well, it's obvious that Andy Mac misses his old mentor. With just 7 points in 13 games, Andy's production has dropped a great deal from the point-a-game pace he established the past two seasons.

Rob Niedermayer, Todd Marchant, Samuel Pahlsson (is god) - I realize that their job is to be the defensive shutdown unit of the Ducks, but a combined one goal and five points in 13 games? That is truly terrible.

If I am Brian Burke ...
1. Have Rob Niedermayer call Scott Niedermeyer EVERY DAY and beg the All-Star defenseman to put the skates back on.

2. Tell the team to smarten the hell up. Bad penalties are killing the Ducks, and not allowing the team offensive stars to get going.

3. Hunt around for a goal-scoring winger. The Ducks need someone who can combine with Dandy Andy and put the puck in the net. There should be quite a few b-grade scorers out in the wilderness that Burke can get his hands on. Bertuzzi can't be counted on for many reasons, Jason King is a flop, and the Ducks have the assets to make a deal.

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the Ducks PK unit is struggling at 80.9%, 16th in the NHL.

Actually, penalties and penalty-killing hasn't really been the problem since Pahlsson returned from hernia surgery. The PK has improved from 73.5% before Pahlsson's return to 88.6% since he came back.

The bigger issue is the inability to score on the power play. As I've noted in my own looking-for-answers post, the last 8 games have seen the Ducks up a man for 68 minutes, in which they've scored one goal and allowed one goal.

Special teams are killing this team, but I don't think it's on the defensive end of the puck.
1) The combo of:
a) The inevitable Cup hangover/short summer
b) A crappy schedule the first month!
c) Large roster turnover
2) We wouldn't bet against them the rest of the way
I don't think you made quite enough of the injury bug. I think they're currently AVERAGING 3 roster players injured per game. maybe a little more or less, but that's pretty huge.

Especially when it means that mark mowers gets powerplay time.
I thought for sure all those Cups Bertuzzi won as a Canuck and an Islander would help the Ducks repeat.
What? None, you say? Oh. Never mind....
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