Judging a team by its first three games is incredibly hasty in an 82-game season, but the Anaheim Ducks are making it pretty difficult to refrain from “fire and brimstone” talk. They haven’t just gone 0-3, they’ve been absolutely decimated.
Most people assumed that their defense would be a weakness thanks to the retirement of Scott Niedermayer and departure of other pieces over the years, and that’s exactly right. The Ducks allowed a disturbing 13 goals in three games so far, more than 4 goals per game. You cannot lay the blame solely at goalie Jonas Hiller’s feet or point to bad luck, either. When your team allows more than twice as many shots (145) as they produce (72) and that total is just a sniff under 50 shots per game, your defense is putrid.
It’s not as if these contests have been a shooting gallery, either, as the Ducks offense is as impotent as their defense is clueless. Despite dressing talented forwards such as Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, Anaheim only scored two goals so far this season (both by Koivu).
No doubt about it, Anaheim’s opening performances have been downright abysmal. The question is, will they right the ship? There are a few reasons why they might but justifiable cause to wonder if this might be a nightmare season. Let’s take a quick glance at both sides of the argument.
Why things could get better
- The Ducks are slow starters: As Earl Sleek points out in a Battle of California post that gave reasons to be positive while pointing out how bad the first two games were, Anaheim is a team that takes a while to wake up in the regular season. Sleek wrote that the Ducks made the playoffs twice in the three times the franchise started a season 0-3.
- The Ducks have talent: While they missed the playoffs last year, they still have some of the best forwards in the NHL and a talented goalie in Hiller. They’re not quite as hopeless as some of the NHL’s worst from 09-10 from a talent standpoint.
Why things might not get better
- Their defense is brutal: Even at 100 percent health, the Ducks blue line is a stark contrast from the group that helped them bully their way to a Stanley Cup. When Lubomir Visnovsky is probably your best defenseman, you better score a lot of goals.
- The Curse of Chris Pronger: The Blues still aren’t regular fixtures in the playoffs since Pronger left while the Oilers continue to pick up the pieces. Oddly enough, it’s hard to replace a guy who menaces the competition into timid play for nearly half of a game.
If you ask me, the Ducks will get a bit better (you can only lose by 3-4 goals so many times, right?) but will need a drastic change to make the playoffs. Let’s just say that coach Randy Carlyle might want to update his resume if things don’t improve soon.
Last week, the Flames stated they would no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary after two years of discussions with the city.
On Monday, Flames president and CEO Ken King said the organization is now receiving funds as part of the National Hockey League’s revenue sharing.
He said the team used to be among the top 10 revenue-earning teams in the NHL who, under the league’s revenue-sharing agreement, contribute funds to the lower-earning teams.
“We have now crossed the line. We are now receivers. We’ll get a cheque this year. Isn’t that ridiculous, in this beautiful market?” he said.
“And I can say, sadly, that we have crossed one of the remedies off the list, and that is the new facility. I honestly do not know where that part of the story is going to end.”
He also stated that the organization’s decision to publicly state it will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary was not political posturing.
The Flames currently play out of the Saddledome, which is 34 years old and has drawn criticism from the team, as well as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Last week, the Flames released a report online and in local newspaper advertisements, saying they were prepared to contribute $275 million in funding toward a new arena. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded, saying there were some “errors of omission” in what the Flames released.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has issued another two-game preseason suspension, this time to Andrew Desjardins of the New York Rangers.
The incident occurred during the first period of Saturday’s game between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as Desjardins delivered a hit to the head of Miles Wood.
Desjardins received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, and a two-game preseason ban on Monday.
“Desjardins, looking to prevent Wood from cutting to the front of the net, steps in front of Wood and delivers a high hit, which makes the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable,” stated the Department of Player Safety in a video explanation.
“It is important to note that Wood is eligible to be hit on this play, provided it is done in a legal manner. However, rather than taking an angle of approach that results in a legal, full-bodied check, Desjardins takes an angle of approach that picks Wood’s head, making it the main point of contact.”
The Rangers are in action right now versus the Philadelphia Flyers. They have one game remaining on their preseason schedule after tonight, as they take on the Flyers again tomorrow.
Desjardins was attending Rangers camp on a professional tryout.
Tough night for the Ottawa Senators and, specifically, goaltender Mike Condon on Monday.
Playing the New Jersey Devils in the Kraft Hockeyville showcase in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Condon allowed seven goals on 17 shots before the midway point of the second period.
Andrew Hammond then entered into the game for Ottawa, with the Senators down 7-0.
Marcus Johansson started the scoring onslaught for New Jersey. Nico Hischier gave the Devils a three-goal lead before the eight-minute mark of the opening period, and John Quenneville scored twice in less than 30 seconds to put New Jersey up by seven in the second period.
The Vegas Golden Knights have chosen an interesting way to honor their season ticket members, as the organization inches closer to starting its inaugural NHL regular season.
The Golden Knights will, for the first time, play on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday against the L.A. Kings in preseason action. To commemorate this historic season, the organization will embed the names of its season ticket members into the ice surface at their home arena.
(You can check out the video here. Very cool.)
“That it was feasible, if we wanted to do something special on the ice, that we had the ability to put texture to something on the ice, before the laid the last round of it,” said Todd Pollock, Golden Knights vice-president of ticketing and suites.
“It’s in the thousands, the number of names out there. Many thousands.”
The Golden Knights have played four preseason games so far — all on the road. They open the regular season with two games in two nights on the road, on Oct. 6 versus the Dallas Stars and the following night versus the Arizona Coyotes. They return to Vegas for their home opener against the Coyotes on Oct. 10.