The Ducks are set to play tomorrow night versus the once defunct Phoenix Coyotes and I will be watching. I’m a Pens’ fan displaced in Southern California with a saturated sports scene that touts two hockey teams, neither of which have been that great since Gretzky hung up his skates and Kariya took his to another market. Nevertheless, without the NHL package and pre-NHL Gamecenter online, if I wanted to watch a live hockey game, I was forced to choose between the team whose logo too closely resembles its Sacramento namesake, or the once “mighty” duck. I chose the latter.
Now, five games into the Ducks’ season, I have been tasked with the chore of following the Ducks and finding something, anything, to talk about with this team, interesting enough to get others to read and nod, or shake their head at in utter disgust.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, and frustratingly for the Ducks’ loyal flock, the only thing glaringly apparent that begs to be discussed is the Ducks’ defense, or lack thereof. In their first four games, Jonas Hiller has seen 184 shots to the Ducks’ 104 with opponents putting 20 goals into the net. Versus the Blues, the Ducks had 14 shots on goal. FOURTEEN. The entire game. The Ducks are second to last in the league, ahead only of the Rangers, in giving up 4.00 goals per game and dead last in the league in plus/minus ratio.
In the Ducks’ best outing so far this season versus the Thrashers, they gave up a hat trick to Stewart and a two-goal lead in the third period to ultimately lose in a shoot out. Sure, Hiller had an awesome stop on Stewart in OT to force the shootout, but it was too little too late by that time. The Ducks’ goal-giving frenzy and bad defense, however, can’t be blamed solely on Hiller. The Ducks lost their Captain and one of the league’s best defensemen in Niedermayer and this shows in the often disorganized play by the net.
Coach Carlyle might need to take a page out of Pens’ Coach Danny Bylsma’s playbook and switch up the netminders one of these games. Although the Pens’ Johnson has more experience and better genes (his dad minded the Pens’ net previously) than Curtis McElhinney, the switch seemed to work for the Pens who have gone 3-0 with Johnson in goal. Yes, McElhinney might be inexperienced and may have taken 14 appearances before he logged his first W, but it’s worth a shot. What’s the worst that can happen? The Ducks go 1-5?
Hopefully with the acquirement of the talented Lydman, and as Cam Folwer gains more minutes, the Ducks’ defense will find its nitch and be able to convert better defense into more opportunities for Getzlaf and Perry.
The game is Sunday (10/17) at 5:00 on PrimeTicket. If you happen to go, make sure you take one of those “D-Fence” signs to try to remind them of what they need to work on.
About the Author
Written by KARLY TAMBARA