It’s time again for Screen Shots, a regular weekly column that breaks down three or four newsworthy hockey items into some smaller bites. This week, we’ll be taking a look at one team’s unexpected success; another’s downward spiral; a third team’s expected failures; and a fourth team’s malaise.
The Anaheim Ducks beat Seattle Thursday night by a whopping 7-4 total, extending their win streak to six games, and boosting their overall record in their past 10 games to an impressive 6-1-3. The Ducks sit second in the Pacific Division with 19 points in 15 games played (Edmonton leads with 20 points in 12 GP), a total that virtually no analyst saw them arriving at so soon in the schedule.
Ducks winger Troy Terry has led the way for Anaheim’s goal-scorers, amassing 11 goals in 14 GP, as well as 19 points in that span. That’s already more than Terry generated in 2021 when he posted a career-best in goals (seven) and points (20) in 48 GP. And, making a points-getter comeback is Terry’s linemate and captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has posted 14 assists and 15 points in 15 games. Getzlaf had only 12 assists and 17 points in 48 GP last season, so this return to prominence comes at a good time for a Ducks team that still has some depth issues and an imbalanced attack.
Anaheim kicks off a three-game homestand this week with games against the Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes; the latter two are two of the best teams in the league thus far this season, and Vancouver is capable of putting up a good fight (and more on them in a bit), so the Ducks will be in tough to prolong their win streak. But this type of unexpected start gives them a solid cushion to absorb any losing skid or injury bug bite. Head coach Dallas Eakins is finally producing light at the end of the tunnel, and his players are buying into his game plan in a big way.
VANCOUVER’S DOWNWARD SPIRAL
After getting humiliated 7-1 by Colorado Thursday, the Canucks are dealing with a 5-7-2 mark, including a 2-5-1 mark in their past eight games. Vancouver has only won two or more consecutive games once this season, and even then, that was a very modest two-game win streak. The Canucks’ five wins put them only one win ahead of the expansion Seattle Kraken in the Pacific Division, and only Seattle has allowed more goals-against (51) than Vancouver (43).
Center J.T. Miller leads all Canucks point-getters with 16 in 14 GP, but with due respect to Miller, he shouldn’t be a team’s best point-getter – at least, not a team that also pays a lot of money to forwards Elias Pettersson (six assists and nine points in 14 GP), Brock Boeser (four goals and eight points in 11 GP), and Bo Horvat (five goals and 10 points in 14 GP). It also doesn’t help matters that starting goaltender Thatcher Demko has pedestrian numbers (2.96 goals-against average, .907 Save Percentage), and that their defense corps can’t generate enough offense (outside of star D-man Quinn Hughes, Vancouver’s five other defensemen have amassed only one goal and seven assists) to take pressure off the forwards.
All-in-all, the Canucks aren’t doing much of anything right. And with upcoming games against white-hot Anaheim, Colorado, and Winnipeg, Vancouver is on the brink of more letdowns. If they don’t improve, and in a hurry, the Canucks are going to face big decisions on the futures of GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green. If that sounds rash, remember that the Canucks have played nearly 20 percent of their regular season, and the results have not been encouraging. It may soon be time for Vancouver to admit this mix of players is not ideal, and team ownership must turn to advisors Daniel and Henrik Sedin for a different competitive route forward.
The Ottawa Senators started the season 2-1-0, and from that point on, it’s been abject misery: they’ve posted a 1-8-1 record in their past 10 games, and they’ve plummeted to the very bottom of the Atlantic Division, two points behind the equally bad Montreal Canadiens (although the Sens have two games in hand on the Habs) for seventh spot in the Atlantic, and eight points behind Tampa Bay (who has a game in hand on them) for the Atlantic’s final playoff berth.
Four of Ottawa’s next five games are at home, but in that stretch, they have to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and New York Rangers. It’s entirely plausible that they lose all five of those games, and watch relative sad-sacks in Buffalo, Detroit and Montreal put more standings points between them. There was optimism to start the year in Canada’s capital, but as we’re seeing, reality paints a bleaker picture of the Senators’ immediate future.
We’re not accustomed to seeing the Boston Bruins labor through the regular season, but that’s certainly what’s happened through their first 11 games of the 2021-22 campaign. The Bruins have dropped two of their past three games, and their mediocre 6-5-0 record puts them in a tie with Buffalo for the fifth spot in the Atlantic.
Not having cornerstone netminder Tuukka Rask (a) healthy; and (b) re-signed is a contributing factor in Boston’s current woes. So is the departure of Czech center David Krejci, and so is the lack of contribution from first-year Bruin Nick Foligno. When you see all the areas in which the Bruins are struggling, you can expect that a bona fide reversal of fortune is going to take impact performances not just from any one area or player.
According to CapFriendly.com, Boston has approximately $2.69 million in cap space, but between re-signing Rask and adding depth on the fringes of the roster, the Bruins may have to use all their cap space to keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings in the race for a post-season slot.