By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal
What’s wrong with the Ducks?
It wasn’t all that long ago that Anaheim’s entry in the National Hockey League was one of the most-admired franchises in sports. Playing in a beautiful arena before big crowds, the Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup and were regular guests at the playoff party.
Now, just a few weeks into the 2010-11 season, the Ducks are looking less like the Lakers and more like the Clippers.
Not including Wednesday night’s game (results too late for our deadline) , the Ducks are in last place in the NHL Pacific Division with a 4-7-1 mark. What’s more, their nine points puts them in 14th place in the Western Conference (out of 15 teams) and 26th out of 30 overall.
Of course, the first week in November is much too early to writ any team’s obituary. It’s a very long slog until the playoffs, and the Anaheimers could yet pull it together. But early indicators are not good.
One problem is taking penalties. The Ducks, once a finesse team, has become a less-successful photocopy of the Broad Street Bullies, at least in the eyes of the referees.
Three of the top 10 players in the NHL in penalty minutes – Sheldon Brookbank, George Parros and Cory Perry – are Ducks. That means that Anaheim is defending a lot more power plays than most teams, and that has been a factor in the team’s record.
A lack of scoring punch has also been evident. Look at the rankings of NHL scorers and you have to trace your finger all the way down to 13th place to find a Duck. Perry has 12 points so far.
But there also appears to be, well, a lack of effort.
On Saturday night when the Ducks lost 5-2 to San Jose, they fell behind early on a faceoff play. “We didn’t play the way we needed to right off the drop,” admitted Ryan Getzlaf.
Coach Randy Carlyle went further.
“We didn’t seem to get involved in the game,” he said. “There’s always going to be fatigue, but it didn’t look like we had much structure.”
Fatigue? In October? If the boys in black and orange are tuckered out before Election Day, how tired will they be around St. Patrick’s Day?
The Ducks lost both games they played last week, falling 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils in addition to the loss to San Jose.
On Friday Anaheim will host the Pittsburgh Penguins and on Sunday the Nashville Predators. Next Wednesday the Ducks will be back in San Jose to take on the Sharks.