Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just like the movies—Ducks start their sequel year in the toilet


Sweet lord. The Ducks, tasked with holding up a one-goal lead for twelve minutes, managed to give up a shorthanded goal with a minute-and-a-half left before giving two points up to the Oilers' 2nd goalie in the shootout. The Oilers, of course, are the one team that the Ducks are least interested in giving two points to, because Anaheim holds their Penner first-round pick for next year.

The Ducks are pathetic in so many ways it's disgusting.
  • The power play is pretty much a liability—all it seems to do is eat up key player minutes. In the last eight games (six of them in Honda Center), Anaheim has enjoyed nearly 68 minutes of 5-on-4 PP time, and managed to score one goal, while allowing one. Sure there's personnel issues with the 2nd unit, but the fact is the top unit players are probably more guilty of underproducing with the man-advantage than the checking line is.
  • The Ducks have trailed by a goal for 220:47 and scored 4 goals—one goal every 55 minutes. The team has led by a goal for 103:02, and allowed 8 goals—one goal every 13 minutes.
  • The Ducks' record is 4-7-2, good for 10 points through 13 games. Wanna know how many teams have made the playoffs the last two years with 10 or fewer points through their first 13 games? One—the Calgary Flames, who have actually done it twice. Calgary started with that same 4-7-2 record each of the last two years.
  • If you project the current record to 82 games, that would make for 25-44-13, 63 points. That would have been good for 28th in the league in 2005-06 and 29th in the league last year.
  • And it's not like competition is much of a factor, either. The last two games the Ducks have lost home games to the two bottom teams in the west, each playing their backup goalies, and couldn't manufacture a win either time. Against this competition, the Ducks scored 2 goals in 125 minutes.
And yeah there's help coming—Getzlaf, R. Niedermayer, Bertuzzi, and Schneider for sure, and we'll have to wait and see with S. Niedermayer and Selanne. The real tragedy is that this team figures to be be an awesome lineup if all its pieces came together, but when is it going to be too late? How long can it dig itself a hole among the NHL's worst?

I hate to be the one to bring it up, but really this whole harsh fall-from-grace theme has already been played out on the big screen, and apparently our hopes for this year rest on the rest of the D2 script playing true. The story thus far:

A hockey team of castaways is thrust into the national spotlight following the success it achieved in the previous season. Ill-prepared for all the hype, they are embarrassed on and off the ice, and proceed to lose their temper and refuse to play well as a team.

In true Disney fashion, then, I'd expect the team to get bolstered with a few familiar faces (Scott & Teemu) and through some off-ice bonding, rediscover the meaning of teamwork in the face of adversity. In fact, I'm kind of hoping that the Ducks take this movie re-enactment to the limit.

Imagine: a second-period-intermission that really turns the shitty season around. After getting outworked and outscored for forty minutes, the team shockingly returns clad in their old eggplant-and-teal cartoon jerseys and teamed with some suddenly unretired-and-eligible superstars. Opponents, announcers, league lawyers, and fans are all shocked, but somehow in the name of drama it all gets allowed. The Re-Mightified Ducks then rediscover their identity and on-ice domination and pull off a memorable comeback win, before having to re-learn the lesson the following season.

I know throwing my hopes up against a Disney sequel script is idiotic, but at this point what choice do I have? The on-ice results are beyond disappointing; this squad bears zero resemblance both in personnel and performance to the team that cruised through last spring's playoffs. And while there still is some hope tied to the white knights named Niedermayer and Selanne, I'm not sure how excited they will be to pin their unretirement hopes on a team that seems to have lost its ability to manufacture a basic win.

Maybe I'm being overly panicky here; the schedule is still not yet 1/5 played, and both my head and my Playstation tell me that a team boasting a blueline of Niedermayer, Pronger, Beauchemin, and Schneider can get the wins together to propel this team to the playoffs. Still, Anaheim is a team that needs some good news quickly, or else the question won't be "are the Ducks going to be this year's version of the Carolina Hurricanes?" but rather "are the Ducks going to be this year's version of the Philadelphia Flyers?"

A Hollywood-style ending is not out of the question for this Anaheim team, but the margin for error is deteriorating fast. Better start working on that knucklepuck, Giguere.

16 comments:

PDO said...

Earl,

Nice post... but what about the Sharks in 05-06? I can't remember just how poorly they started, but it was certainly in the range that Anaheim is in right now. It's a long season, and like you said, the help is coming.

Besides... it's not like you're paying Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner over $10,000,000 a year.. so it can't be all that bad ;)

I expected the Ducks to struggle, especially out of the gate, but they'll bounce back. If Selanne and Niedermayer come back, they could really make some noise. I have to think that right now the biggest blessing for the Ducks though is that the Sharks have gotten off to an equally mediocre start.

Earl Sleek said...

Nice post... but what about the Sharks in 05-06?

05-06 is a valid point to bring up for both the Ducks and Sharks, though both those teams started better than this year's Ducks; through 13 games each team was 7-5-1.

It was later on in the early season that they got beat up--by game 24, the Sharks were at 8-12-4 and the Ducks were at 9-11-4. So comebacks are certainly possible and do happen, but it's got to be a significant turnaround.

Basically, the way I'm seeing things nowadays, this ship can be righted, but it will take a lot of things going very right from here on out. The bleeding has got to stop real soon.

RudyKelly said...

I'm just letting you know right now that if Travis Moen gets 2 minutes for roping this season I'm filing a motion for your team to disband. Just giving you the head's up.

MetroGnome said...

the Calgary Flames, who have actually done it twice. Calgary started with that same 4-7-2 record each of the last two years.

I don't know if Im supposed to be proud of this or not.

Earl Sleek said...

No, I'm not sure "pride" is the right takeaway, but at least you can bring some optimism to this year's start--it's definitely a better springboard than the Flames have been using the last two years.

spade-in-victorhell said...

were offically garbage earl...hard to argue with your article..heres somthing positive for ya....were not the only ones with a clueless power play....oilers PP looks like shit too!!! woot woot!! they have the same...absolutly no plan of action type power play we have

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I guess I could take some solace out of other struggling teams a few games ago, but I don't even know if that gets me very far.

At least the Oilers' PP seems capable at preventing goals-against, especially in the last two minutes of a one-goal-lead game. Then again, that doesn't seem to be holding the bar very high--just high enough to surpass the Ducks' PP capabilities.

spade-in-victorhell said...

right now it feels like RC is just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks...gawd thats fuckin depressing

Earl Sleek said...

Heck, I can't even say that. Right now it feels like RC is just throwing Mark Mowers at the wall until he decides to prove all his previous coaches wrong and suddenly becomes an offensive star.

It's not a case of trying everything, though. I don't think players like Miller, Wirtanen, King, and Ryan have been given a very fair shake at power play time. Mark Mowers, despite producing nothing, can't play his way off the unit. Hell, he would have been Anaheim's 3rd shooter last night too, had the shootout not been decided by two shooters.

Black Dog said...

Earl - if the team was completely healthy that you might have reason to be worried.

breathe man breathe

Earl Sleek said...

breathe man breathe

You're right, BDHS. But still, the combined notions of "wait until this team gets healthy (whatever timeframe that is)" and "oh, by the way, until we're healthy, we'll play like one of the worst teams out there" makes me pessimistic.

There is a point where the hole is too deep for any team to get out of, and we're not near that yet, but damn we seem to be digging as fast as we can.

Sherry said...

I have some pictures of some ducks with their heads under-water if you would like to suggest that they are 'sinking'. Personally, I think they were just mooning me, but you can pick whichever metaphor you like.

spade-in-victorhell said...

the last thing i want to hear is "wait until this team gets healthy " thats like sandpaper on my balls

bdub said...

does that make the kings "Island" /ICELAND then ?

don't worry the Ducks will pull through :)

Patty (in Dallas) said...

If it weren't for BoC, I could revel in the Ducks' misery, guilt-free. Damn you Earl and RudyKelly! (And now Cheechew.)

Finny said...

ok. now im depressed again. thx sleek... bad enough that i had to witness it...