The Anaheim Ducks finished their five game road trip with a fluke loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Ducks failed to win a game in the long trip going 0-4-1, earning only one point from the 1-0 overtime loss to Chicago. The losing trip thrusts the Ducks to the bottom of the Western conference standings with only 4 points.
Anaheimâ€™s trip began with a 5-1 loss to the Predators in Nashville. The Music Cityâ€™s saber-toothed offense outshot the Ducks by only one, but goaltender Pekka Rinne saved the day with 27 saves. The Ducks had the shots on net, but they could not catch a break. The predators on the other had could not stop from scoring. The 5 goals from the Predators marked another loss for Anaheimâ€™s back-up goalie Anton Khudobin, 1-4-1. The Ducks would move onto the State of Hockey for another conference loss to the Wild, 3-0.
The Ducksâ€™ one point from the trip came in a thrilling overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 26. The Ducks forced Hawksâ€™ goalie Corey Crawford to make 39 saves, but despite several quality scoring chances the Ducks could not find the back of the net. The Blackhawks had just as difficult of a time scoring throughout the game as well, and the Ducks were able to outshoot Chicago by 15 shots on goal. The only goal of the game came 51 seconds into the overtime period when Jonathan Toews scored from a wrist shot to the short side, his second OT win in a row. Despite a loss, the Ducks looked strong against the defending Stanley Cup champions. This was the first time that the two teams face-off since the Western Conference Finals, where the Blackhawks eliminated the Ducks from the 2015 playoffs. The Ducks would not look as good in any other game during the trip falling to the Stars 4-3, and finishing the trip with a controversial 2-1 loss to St. Louis.
In the St. Louis game, Hampus Lindholm started off the scoring for the Ducks in the second period, jamming the puck through the pads of Blues goalie, Jake Allen. The Blues evened things up four minutes later with a goal from Vladimir Tarasenko. The game would remain tied through the remainder of the period, and both teams would head to the locker room. At the 10:31 minute mark of the third period, a face-off win from Scott Gomez passed the puck up to the blue line where Bluesâ€™ rookie Colton Parayko fired a shot. The shot missed the net, but the puck rebounded off of the boards, and found its way into the skate blade of Ducks goalie Fredrik Anderson, who then accidently kicked the puck into the net for the game winning goal.
The Ducks could not catch a break during the five game road trip from â€œH-E-Double hockey Sticksâ€, and they seem too not be able to win a game. The teamâ€™s only win came against the Wild, during the teams last home game in Honda Center, the Ducks won 4-1. The scoring for the ducks has picked up, but a lack of consistency in both defense and goaltending is the main reason why the ducks are not winning games.
Other than the win against Minnesota and the loss to Chicago, the Ducks have given up at least two goals per game. It is easy to blame the losses solely on the goalies, but a lapse in defense is also to blame. The Ducks for the past few seasons have been more focused on having defensemen who score goals, such as Cam Fowler, but the hard-nosed style of west coast hockey calls more for a rough and tough defense as opposed to a finesse based one. The Ducks utilized this style last season and found themselves in the Western Conference Finals, but they have reverted back to their â€œfinesse before basicsâ€ style of hockey. They need to tighten up the defense when teams eventually make their way into the attacking zone, and increase passing through the neutral zone. The Anaheim defensemen need to use their body size to their advantage and win scrums on the boards, so that forwards are in a position to carry the puck into the offensive zone and create scoring chances.
The defense is one problem for the Ducks, but inconsistency from the goalies is also a huge issue for the team. Coach Bruce Boudreau is still adamant on executing a tag team goalie system, with Anderson technically as the number one, and Khudobin as number two. Anderson is yet to win a game for the Ducks, and his tenure in southern California seems dismal, especially with John Gibson gaining experience in the AHL. The Ducks need a franchise goalie who can carry the team when times get bad, and when the defense falls apart. Going back to when the Ducks won the Cup, the strong leadership of J.S. Giguere in net played a significant role in Anaheimâ€™s success. Coach Boudreau needs to either make the call and start Anderson as the official starter for Anaheim, or call up John Gibson from the AHL and let him finish out the season. Either the way, a big change in net needs to come I the Ducks are thinking about winning more than one game this season.
The scoring has started for the Ducks, and if they can manage without their Captain Ryan Getzlaf, who is out for 4-12 days after his appendectomy, then they might be able to start winning hockey games. The Ducks show glimpses of hope, and if they create more opportunities, eventually the goals will come. The wins will inevitably flow if and when the defense is able to tighten up, and the goalie situation is resolved.