The Anaheim Ducks are in a tough situation to start the year. A ghastly start has had the Ducks spinning their tires to a 1-5-1 record. With three points out of a possible 14, the Ducks have the worst record in the West and the second-lowest point total in the NHL. Only the lowly Blue Jackets have fewer points. The Ducks’ play are a far cry from the Pacific leading 109 points they put up last year. Head coach Bruce Boudreau has taken a considerable amount of heat, as he should, but there’s reason to believe the Ducks aren’t doomed.
The biggest problem Anaheim has encountered is they can’t score goals. It’s a pretty big problem. They’ve been shutout four times in seven games, and have found the back of the net just six times in seven games. That’s less than a goal per game. No Ducks player has scored more than once this season. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Jakob Silfverberg and Carl Hagelin, who combined for more than 100 goals in 2014-15, are all scoreless this season. Barring catastrophic injuries, there’s little chance that trend continues. Those are all genuine top-six players with oodles of talent who happen to be off to horrific starts collectively. Bad, but not a sign of things to come.
Struggles have Boudreau shuffling his lines around to try to find some scoring as the offense has obviously sputtered. The Ducks rank 21st in the NHL with 27.8 shots/60 at even strength, which is right on par with last season’s output, but the team’s scoring chances have declined. Ranking 8th in 2014-15 with a 52.3 SCF%, they’ve fallen to second to last in the NHL to 45.0%.
The Ducks possession game has also gone awry, as the club’s 23rd in the NHL with a 48.3% score-adjusted Corsi, again which is off last year’s 51.1% mark. The power play hasn’t fared much better, scoring just once in 19 opportunities. It’s a small sample size, and would be much more concerning if this was after 50 games, not seven. The Ducks need to generate more scoring chances. The team has logged the third-most time in the offensive zone, and with the talent Anaheim possesses, all of these marks can and should be improved. Goals will start coming.
Defensively, Anaheim hasn’t been great, but it could be much worse. They’ve posted a -3.7 shot differential/60 and given up 31.4 shots/60 – which ranks within the bottom 10 in the NHL. If there’s been one saving grace, it’s been the penalty kill. The Ducks have killed off 22/24 powerplays, and are tied for first with a 90.9%. The Ducks defense is reeling from injuries, with Josh Manson, Simon Depres and Clayton Stoner all on injured reserve, but when healthy (outside Stoner) this is pretty responsible group.
Goalie Frederik Andersen has been great at even strength through five games, posting a 93.33 Sv%, but backup Anton Khudobin has limped his way to a 89.66 5v5 Sv%. With John Gibson more than NHL ready in the AHL, if Khudobin struggles, he’s not going to be around much longer.
Despite some shaky early season numbers, this group is far too talented to be as bad as they currently are. This isn’t a situation where the team needs to be torn down and dismantled, but instead patience needs to be shown as things will soon come around. Firing Bodreau would be a reactionary move, similar to what we saw in Columbus, and he wouldn’t be easily replaced. He’s one of the best in the business, and getting rid of him would further send the season in a tailspin. The Ducks need to ride out the early struggles.
It’s not time to panic in Anaheim.