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The Puck Stops Here

Don’t Panic In Anaheim

It’s very early in the NHL season.  It is far too early to celebrate when your team is off to a fast start and it is far too early to panic when your team is off to a slow start.  The team that has had the most remarkable start, either good or bad is probably the Anaheim Ducks.  In three games played so far, Anaheim has three losses.  They have only scored two goals so far this season, which gives them the worst goals scored per game in the league.  They have allowed 13 goals, which is third worst in the league.  That gives them the worst team +/- of -11 in the league.  Anaheim’s best game to date was a 4-1 loss to Nashville, where they were outshot 49-37.

There are Anaheim fans panicking, but it’s far too early for this.  Every team has a few weak games over the course of a season.  It looks more important than it is when there are no strong games played as well, since it is the beginning of the season.

The Anaheim Ducks have some talented offensive players in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.  It is just a matter of time before they start scoring.  Thus far none of them have any points.  At this point, only Saku Koivu has scored a goal for Anaheim and he has scored two of them.  Teemu Selanne and rookie Cam Fowler are the only other players with points so far, as they have one assist each.  That is a clearly unsustainably bad offence.  Merely by changing nothing, things will get better.  There is too much talent to be this bad.

In goal, Jonas Hiller has lost all three games, but he hasn’t played badly.  He has a .905 saves percentage, which is acceptable.  The problem is Anaheim has allowed over 48 shots against per game.  That is unsustainably bad.  Last year, Florida allowed the most shots per game at slightly over 34 shots per game or about 30% better than Anaheim has been so far.  We did expect that Anaheim might not have a strong defence, given Scott Niedermayer’s retirement and given that of their top three defencemen in terms of ice time, only Lubomir Visnovsky is a proven NHLer (the other two are Cam Fowler and Brendan Mikkelson).

Anaheim is not likely a playoff team this year, but I bet they are in the race for a berth through most of the season. 

If the Anaheim organization panics, they might fire head coach Randy Carlyle, who won the 2007 Stanley Cup as the Ducks coach.  There is an hfboards thread predicting it.  This shows a point about coaching very clearly.  People do not know how to rate coaches, here is something I wrote about this topic a few years ago.  Randy Carlyle has been considered the best coach in hockey by some.  Here is an ESPN post that picks him as the best coach in the game.  People are far too ready to credit team success to the coach whether or not he is responsible and bring blame to the coach for team failures regardless of whether or not he is responsible.

It’s never good to play three games as badly as Anaheim has so far.  It’s also an unsustainably bad result.  Anaheim will be better.  I think they could finish slightly below the middle of the league this year and when they do this start will be a forgotten memory.  Things will not stay this bad.  It is far too early to panic.

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The first five or ten games define a team’s season more than any other, because they establish momentum and decide the mood/attitude of the locker room. In Anaheim’s case, that mood is ‘we have no decent d-men, our head coach will be sacked by December, and let’s hope that Adam Larsson is the second coming of Nick Lidstrom’. Losing your top three defensemen, without making any proper attempt to replace them in the short-term, will tend to produce a genuinely terrible team: Ducks fans shouldn’t be panicking, because they shouldn’t be surprised.

Posted by fcjbencard on 10/12/10 at 09:28 AM ET

landsharkhockey's avatar

It seems like every season, Getzlaf takes his time getting started.  He went over a week without a point last year, too.  He’ll get going soon.

Posted by landsharkhockey on 10/12/10 at 11:11 AM ET

Moq's avatar

When you lose 5-1 to St. Louis Blues while being outshot 53-14, there should be a bit of concern brewing somewhere in Anaheim. Perhaps not to the point of outright panic, but it should be taken seriously.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 10/12/10 at 01:37 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

even when the first line and both the 3rd & 4th finally produce, they’ll hardly be able to score more goals than they let in more often than not. giving up THIS many shots would make me panic indeed - that’s not to be compensated by their offense scoring. yea, as soon as they click, the ducks will of course play more in the other end. but perry/getzlaf/ryan aren’t playing d, are they?

Losing your top three defensemen, without making any proper attempt to replace them in the short-term, will tend to produce a genuinely terrible team: Ducks fans shouldn’t be panicking, because they shouldn’t be surprised.


the ducks’ d has bled ever since they won the cup, and they even let some good 2-way-forwards walk. what good is b+ goaltending and an a first line when you’ve got that joke of a d? heck, wisniewski alone had more grit than the whole ducks’ d has shown so far.

when looking at the level of (understandable, but misplaced) frustration in the game against st.louis, it’s quite hard to imagine this team turning it around very quickly. with that d, they’ll never make the playoffs. in my eyes, it’d be no surprise if the ducks ended up as this season oilers. just saying.

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 10/12/10 at 08:21 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

oh, and one more thing: the shots against in all three games are more than brutal. how exactly are the ducks gonna turn that around without bringing niedermayer back? raspberry

somewhere in florida, thomas vokoun grumbles about not being able to be The Goalie Who Had To Face The Most Shots Against like in every year he’s played in florida so far. maybe the ducks should trade for him? ^^

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 10/12/10 at 08:23 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

They have only scored two goals so far this season, which gives them the worst goals against per game in the league. 

how does the number of goals they’ve scored have anything to do with their goals against per game?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 10/12/10 at 11:45 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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