Three games into the season is far, far too early to be writing off any team, but the early results for the Anaheim Ducks have been disastrous. Starting their season with a three game Central Division road trip, the Ducks have lost all three games in convincing fashion: a 4-0 loss to Detroit, a 4-1 loss to Nashville, and a 5-1 loss to St. Louis.
Surprisingly, though, goaltending hasn’t been an area of weakness. Jonas Hiller and Curtis McElhinney may have combined for a 4.33 GAA, but the Ducks’ save percentage is a solid 0.910.
The problem is everywhere else. Through three games, the Ducks rank 29th in shots taken, with 24 (only the Oilers, at 23, are worse). They rank 30th in shots against, averaging 48.3, meaning that they’ve been outshot by a 2:1 ratio in every game they’ve played so far. In their last game, against St. Louis, things get more lopsided once missed shots and blocked shots are included: the Blues fired 82 pucks at the Anaheim goal, while the Ducks managed just 25 against the St. Louis net.
The players responsible are sprinkled throughout the roster. Anaheim’s fourth line is getting destroyed by any shot metric, but then so is Ryan Getzlaf – averaging a negative 14.3 shot differential for every sixty minutes of even-strength ice-time. Aside from the surprisingly effective Saku Koivu/Jason Blake duo, it’s hard to find a bright spot up front.
The weaknesses of Anaheim’s defence have been repeatedly highlighted here, and a quick glance at their Corsi ratings (adjusted for 60 minutes of ice-time) lays the problems bare:
- Andy Sutton: +8.79
- Lubomir Visnovsky: –1.59
- Paul Mara: –9.38
- Luca Sbisa: –17.03
- Brendan Mikkelson: –18.93
- Cam Fowler: –19.78
- Sheldon Brookbank: –25.82
The numbers from the St. Louis game (the worst game of Anaheim’s three so far) haven’t been included yet, so amazingly these numbers will get worse. But I think the things that were obvious before the season started (the kids aren’t ready for top-four minutes, Sheldon Brookbank isn’t ready to dress every game) remain so now.
Things should get better – the goaltending is strong, Ryan Getzlaf isn’t this bad, and hope remains that the brain-trust in Anaheim will have a sudden moment of competence and send Fowler down to junior, to be replaced with someone ready for NHL minutes – but the team is making an early case for worst in the West.