The slow start in Anaheim was predictable.
The Ducks opened their season with a “very difficult” road trip — five straight games through Dallas, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Newark and Philly. They’re also without two key pieces in Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell, and just 12 months removed from a ghastly 1-7-2 start last season.
So the built-in excuses are there.
But the team wants no part of them.
“Everybody has to look themselves in the mirror,” Ryan Kesler said following Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Devils, per the O.C. Register. “I don’t think anybody was good enough tonight to win that hockey game. We’re close but once again we’re not there.
“We’ve been through it before. We’re probably going to go through it again during the stretch of this year. We just need everybody collectively to look in the mirror.”
If the Ducks follow Kesler’s urging for self-reflection, they’ll probably see the penalty box somewhere in the background.
Discipline’s been an issue thus far. The Ducks have been whistled for 19 minor penalties already — fifth-most in the league — and while they did a good job of killing them in their first three games, it cost them last night.
New Jersey converted two of its seven power play opportunities. Things were especially bad in the second period, when Anaheim was dinged for five straight penalties — Kesler, Emerson Etem, Antoine Vermette, Nick Sorensen and Kevin Bieksa, if you’re keeping track — a procession that head coach Randy Carlyle called “unacceptable” and “frustrating.”
Add it all up, and the Ducks now head into Thursday’s game at Wells Fargo sporting a 0-3-1 record.
It’s hardly the end of the world — three of the four losses came by one goal, and the club got a point off the Islanders — but one can sense pressure mounting.
Remember, GM Bob Murray faced criticism for bringing Carlyle back into the fold to replace Bruce Boudreau. Rakell is now signed, but still needs to obtain a work visa and recover from abdominal surgery.
Everything remains quiet on the Lindholm front.
The bottom-six forward group is a work in progress — Etem, claimed off waivers from Vancouver, made his team debut against New Jersey — and the defense is still without the services of Simon Despres, who’s dealing with a possible concussion.
The Ducks showed last year they can rebound from a bad start, finishing with 103 points and the Pacific Division title.
Bet they’d like to avoid digging out of a similar hole this year, though.