Line combinations change frequently in the NHL, and the Anaheim Ducks aren’t shy about trying out different wingers alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Perhaps they’ve found a more permanent fit in Patrick Maroon, though?
It makes sense in many ways.
Most obviously, the 27-year-old matches up with Perry and Getzlaf in providing a physical presence. NHL.com lists him at 231 lbs., pretty hefty for league standards. He’s been productive in the playoffs so far (four points in five games) and appears to be the Ducks dynamic duo’s most frequent linemate.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com that it’s all about Maroon becoming more reliable.
“When you’ve only been in this League for a little over two years, the consistency sometimes isn’t there,” Boudreau said. “That’s the only thing that’s plagued him through the course of the year. When he’s on top of his game, he’s a big force for us, but he’s back on that line because he’s been consistent of late and he’s been playing the same way. There’s no letdown in his game.”
“No letdown” is also a good way to describe how the Ducks played against the Flames in Game 1. We’ll see if Maroon & Co. can keep their impressive run going on Sunday night.
It was supposed to be a battle between two of the league’s power houses, a potential Stanley Cup final preview, but Sunday’s tilt between the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers was an “old-fashioned butt-kicking” in the words of Bruce Boudreau.
New York chased Anaheim starter Frederik Andersen after he allowed three goals on the Rangers’ first seven shots and never really looked back thumping the Ducks 7-2.
“We looked more like No. 30 than we did No. 1 tonight,” Boudreau said per The Orange County Register. “We couldn’t look at anybody that was really good. We were all in the same boat.”
The loss ended Anaheim’s four-game win streak.
The Ducks lost both meetings with the Rangers this season while being out-scored 11-3.
“We’re going to flush it and move on,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “That’s all you can do on these nights. Burn the tape. Move on. Get ready to play the next one. Because tonight was embarrassing. It was terrible.”
Anaheim continues its three-game road trip Tuesday night in Columbus while the Rangers play host to the L.A. Kings on NBCSN.
If a team allows only seven shots through the final 40 minutes of hockey, it’s a safe bet that team is on its way to a win. Not the case for the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
They were up against the Calgary Flames, kings of the third-period comeback — that wasn’t necessary on this occasion — and owners of the third worst Corsi For percentage at five-on-five in the NHL, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. Yet somehow, despite giving up only seven shots on goal in the final 40 minutes of play, the Ducks and goalie John Gibson gave up four goals and lost by a final score of 6-3.
The Flames also scored on two second-period power plays. Both times, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was in the box.
Anaheim still maintains top spot in the Pacific Division, although its dropped three straight games.
“I think they’re all critical [games] right now,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, as per NHL.com. “Everybody thinks that, ‘Oh yeah, we’re in first place’ and that, but I mean it’s within 10 points of the wild card and we’ve played more games than everybody else, so we’ve got to get our act in gear right now.”
“They got a lot of goals on our mistakes,” added Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, as per the club’s website. “We were sloppy with the puck and didn’t get it deep. Our game plan is to get the puck deep and work them down low. We didn’t do that tonight. That’s why we weren’t successful.”
On Friday, the Anaheim Ducks face the L.A. Kings, who, in case you haven’t noticed, are kind of on a roll right now.
And that roll would very likely continue for the Kings if the Ducks put forward another effort like the one they had Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators.
The Ducks were shut out 3-0 on home ice, ending their brief winning streak at three games. They remain atop the Pacific Division. But the Kings have won eight in a row, made a big trade earlier Wednesday, and appear like they could threaten to go on another lengthy playoff run.
Prior to their small three-game winning streak, the Ducks had been beaten in five of six games.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had a pretty direct message to his team after the loss to Ottawa.
“We can’t wait until the third period to play. We’re capable of doing a lot more than that. It’s maddening,” he said, as per the club’s Twitter account.
“We face a super test Friday [against LA]. We better pull our heads out of our butts or it’s not going to be pretty,” he added.
The Ducks tested Ottawa’s goalie Andrew Hammond with 25 shots on goal, and 15 in the final 40 minutes.
The good news is that the Anaheim Ducks still have a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division. It almost seems like the bad news is “everything else.”
If you’ve been following along on PHT, you’re probably aware that the Ducks have been in a slump that might just be a sign of a team that isn’t as good as its record indicates. That much has been explored here and here.
Still, with injuries mounting, the Ducks were thumped by the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-1 last night, exacerbating worries that the team is waddling badly into the playoffs. Head coach Bruce Boudreau seemingly took a “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” perspective according to this OC Register report.
“I don’t think anybody’s very happy or used to what’s going on,” Boudreau said. “But it’s up to us. We can’t hang our heads. Friggin’ every other team wants to win to. We got to pull ourselves of this.
“When we do, we’ll be a better team for it. We’d certainly like to see it happen sooner than later.”
There’s at least some recognition of the struggles. Ben Lovejoy said “it’s not head-scratching” and that the Ducks are aware that the played poorly. So there’s that.
As with many slumps – particularly ones by teams that were seemingly getting a lot of puck luck until they hit a wall of regression – the question becomes “How much power does this team actually have to turn things around?”
It’s plausible that Frederik Andersen’s excellent work camouflaged a lot of issues for Anaheim before he was injured. Really, Boudreau might have a point that it’s a blessing in disguise to struggle now instead of in April, May or June.
That said, what this slump really might say is that the Ducks need to sacrifice some of their healthy cap space to get better via moves between today and the March 2 trade deadline.
Determining if it’s a matter of will or personnel is where the head-scratching really might take place.