Six games into the season the Anaheim Ducks have won just once and have scored only six goals. But don’t worry about the Ducks just yet. The Anaheim offense has been the victim of bad bounces, not poor play, and things are bound to turn around soon.
Who would have thought that through six games, the Anaheim Ducks would have one win, three points and be near the bottom of the Pacific Division?
The Ducks were one win away from the Stanley Cup final in 2014-15, but so far this season it doesn’t seem like Anaheim would be able to buy a win. Don’t go thinking this Ducks team is in need of some sort of massive shakeup, though.
There has already been talk this season about Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau finding himself on the hot seat, ways to spark the lineup through shaking up line combinations and even some thinking GM Bob Murray could make a big change to his roster. None of those are real solutions to what ails the Ducks. Truthfully, Anaheim has played quite well, they’re just not getting the results.
In just about some important advanced statistical categories, Anaheim has been among the class of the league. When it comes to puck possession at 5-on-5, the Ducks are tied for fifth with the undefeated Montreal Canadiens at a 52.8 percent shot attempts for percentage. Boudreau’s Ducks have started more shifts in the offensive zone than all but three teams in the league in 2015-16. Even the goaltending has been all right through six games, with a 5-on-5 save percentage of .922, which is just below the Tampa Bay Lightning and tied with the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars.
What the Ducks’ real issue has been so far is something far more confounding considering the talented group of forwards Anaheim boasts: they haven’t been able to score goals.
Through six games this season, Anaheim’s stars have vanished from the score sheet. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have combined for three points — all assists. The trio is tied this season with the likes of Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Maroon and Jiri Sekac among the Ducks’ scoring leaders.
Atop Anaheim’s scoring list you’ll find defenseman Hampus Lindholm and centers Mike Santorelli and Rickard Rakell, all of whom have scored one goal and two points. No single player on the Ducks has more than one goal this season. It’s no wonder, then, that Anaheim is the lowest-scoring team in the entire NHL with just six goals. No other team has fewer than 10.
Lucky for the Ducks, there’s no chance that continues.
Over the past five seasons, no team — not the awful Buffalo Sabres clubs of the past two seasons or 2014-15’s Arizona Coyotes — has had a 5-on-5 shooting percentage below 5.72 over the course of an entire season. The league average has been closer to the 7.5 percent range since 2010-11. After Thursday night’s 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, the Ducks are currently shooting 2.8 percent for the season.
During that same period, the Anaheim Ducks have never had a 5-on-5 shooting percentage below 7.8 percent. In 2013-14, the Ducks hit their high, scoring on 9.8 percent of their shots with five a side, but they’ve averaged an 8.5 shooting percentage at 5-on-5 since 2010-11.
Anaheim, more than anything, has been a victim of puck luck. The shots that should be going in aren’t and they’re not even getting a friendly bounce or deflection on the way in. Say what you will for earning your bounces, but the Ducks have earned at least one by now and the pucks still won’t go in.
It doesn’t help that so far this season Anaheim has faced white-hot San Jose Sharks netminder Martin Jones, Nashville’s always-stellar Pekka Rinne, a defensively smothering Minnesota Wild team and a youthful and rejuvenated Arizona Coyotes group.
If there is anywhere to worry about the Ducks, it’s in their own end. Boudreau’s teams have never been the most defensively sound and this season’s Ducks are no different thus far. Following Thursday’s game, Anaheim has given up 134 scoring chances against and mustered just 113 for. Of those scoring chances for the opposition, 59 have been of the high-danger variety.
Starting netminder Frederik Andersen has been good so far this season, but backup Anton Khudobin has left much to be desired. Losing Simon Despres didn’t help the Ducks blueline, but there are capable replacements in Josh Manson and Korbinian Holzer. And even if the improvement on defense is ever-so-slight, Anaheim’s fortune should start changing soon because there’s no chance the Ducks offense continues to struggle this way.
So before you start writing off the Ducks this season, just know that this offense has a ton of punch and the pucks are going to start going in. And as soon as that happens, the rest of the Pacific Division should be on high alert.
(All advanced statistics courtesy of War-On-Ice.com)