Buried in the game report from Anaheim’s 3-2 loss to Washington last night was this startling statistic:
The Ducks paid the price for an 0-for-6 night on the power play. They are 2-for-48 since Jan. 30.
That’s a shocking 4.2 percent success rate since the end of January. I’ve seen milks with higher percentages. And while that stat only goes back to Jan. 30, it’s clear this issue has run the course of the season; Anaheim has 38 total power play goals on the year, but 12 of them came during a wild six-game stretch in early January in which the Ducks went a perfect 3-for-3 against Boston, then set a club record by scoring six PPG in a 9-1 drubbing of Vancouver.
What makes Anaheim’s futility all the more remarkable is that it remains one of the NHL’s most potent offensive teams. The Ducks rank fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.2), are on the verge of having two 30-goal scorers (Corey Perry has 36; Ryan Getzlaf has 29) and have 11 players with at least 20 points this season.
The fact the Ducks can’t score on the power play makes zero sense, and it’s definitely disconcerting. Following the loss to Washington, head coach Bruce Boudreau acknowledged the futile PP was a major issue.
“I’m disappointed in our specialty teams. It’s been our Achilles’ heel all year,” he explained, per the L.A. Times. “It’s something that we’ve got 13 games to correct, or we’re going to be in trouble.”
Boudreau is speaking from experience. In last year’s opening-round playoff loss to Detroit, the Ducks jumped out to a 2-1 series lead on the strength of its power play, going 5-for-15 over the first three games.
But when the man advantage stopped clicking, the Ducks started to struggle.
Anaheim proceeded to score just two more PPGs in 10 opportunities over the final four games, and Detroit won three of the four.
Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.
Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.
The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.
Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.
“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.
Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.
Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.