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.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.