We are almost done with the first quarter of the NHL season and despite the majority of the Ducks fans feeling miserable and upset, we still are very much in the mix in the Pacific. As of Tuesday morning the Ducks are with 19 points, and the Sharks and Flames sit within playoff spots at 21 points. It may seem hard to believe when we are playing games like we have vs the Wild and Kings this past week, where the team looked like the local beer league team could give them a run for their money, but the Pacific is a bit unstable and the Ducks are still afloat.
One reason it may not seem like it is because when the Ducks lose, it’s ugly and when they win, it’s not all that pretty. The Ducks lost to the Kings at Staples Center where they looked like they had no idea what was going on. Passes not connecting, giving up opportunities left and right, just not good. A couple days’ later vs the Wild, we really didn’t stand a chance from the opening horn. It looked like we didn’t show up, and going against the Minnesota back-up goalie after a back to back would have been a great opportunity to bring the intensity and control the game, yet we saw quite the opposite.
As for the wins, we did beat the league’s top team in Nashville last night in the shoot-out (should we hang a banner…?), but in doing so we gave them 7 power plays including one in overtime. We were very lucky to get out of that game with points at all (god bless John Gibson). When we played the Flames, I thought we had a great bounce back effort after the mess in LA but we still surrendered 39 shots on goal, and to be honest I did not think Mike Smith had a great game for the Flames which isn’t really out of the ordinary. I am happy to be getting wins but it would be great to come out and just dominate a game all around.
The revolving door of injuries is still an issue, as we finally got back Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase this past week but now Patrick Eaves is back out with an upper Body issue, and Cam Fowler took a puck to the face vs Nashville and left the ice bleeding (note per Elliott Teaford Fowler was missing from Tuesdays Practice, and Welinski was back from San Diego), I do not know if it is anything serious but hopefully he will be okay. Having Ritchie back is good because we need that physical presence and as long as he behaves out there he can be a real asset, but getting Kase back in the line-up is huge for the Ducks. He has been referred to as the Energizer Bunny by Randy Carlyle (good one Randy) and you can see why last night vs Nashville. He was buzzing around the ice, silky smooth hands and just seemed to be in the mix. He did not find the score sheet but it’s only a matter of time.
I think one reason the season has seemed so bleak thus far (besides, ya know the 7 game winless streak) is that because the Pacific division has not been all too dominate in the early goings, it feels like the Ducks have really missed out on an opportunity to gain some ground early. After coming out and getting points in 6 of the first 7 games it was as if the Ducks were going to be a leader in the Pacific for the long haul. Now, with the Sharks not living up to the hype (yet…), Vegas coming back to reality, and the Kings doing whatever it is they are doing the Ducks had a wide open door to take the Pacific early, but instead decided to lose 7 in a row and make things interesting. Now having Vancouver and Calgary in the top 2 spots, you don’t really know if they are going to keep moving or kind of fade away like they have in the past. If we can sting some wins together now that we are getting healthier, we should be just fine. We all know the Ducks never make things easy and have a flair for the dramatic.