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.