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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What do you do with Six Games of Suck?

Well, the Ducks are looking reminiscent of last year's championship squad, even with the current injury to center Doug Weight. They've won their last five games in regulation, outscoring opponents 14-5, and have just concluded an eight-game road trip before enjoying the next seven games at home.

Still, there is the matter of the Six Games of Suck™, auspiciously inserted in the middle of their Niedersurgence. Below is a segmented look at the Ducks' season-to-date. Note that Scott Niedermayer made his debut in Game 35, while Teemu Selanne made his debut in Game 57.

Game No.

GPRecordGF – GA = GDPower PlayPenalty Kill

1 – 34

34

15-15-4

+2.38 – 2.82 = -0.44

24/155 15.5%

41/193 78.8%

35 – 50

16

12-2-2

+2.88 – 1.63 = +1.25

14/67 20.9%

8/69 88.4%

51 – 56

6

0-5-1

+0.83 – 3.00 = -2.17

2/26 7.7%

4/26 84.6%

57 – 61

5

5-0-0

+2.80 – 1.00 = +1.80

3/15 20.0%

2/22 90.9%


Games 51 - 56 represent those Six Games of Suck™, where the Ducks' offense and defense struggled mightily. Now on the surface, this somewhat resembles what happened in a 2-7-2 stretch with last year's team, but last year came with easier explanations: concurrent injuries to J.S. Giguere, Ilya Bryzgalov, Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin, and Todd Marchant made the lineup much more laughable. This year, however, the lineup wasn't altered to any great degree; suddenly the team just turned terrible. In four of the six games, the Ducks surrendered the first three goals of the game.

Towards the end of that stretch, an explanation was offered: the flu. Now I'm not a guy who buys into that sort of excuse very easily, but looking at the wildly different results coming from essentially the same roster, it does seem to have some credibility. Still, I'm a fan who's trying to decide how good this current Ducks team is, and part of that is determining how much the Six Games of Suck™ matter. A pure optimist would drop those games as a non-representative hiccup, and offer that the Ducks should be 17-2-2 since Niedermayer's return, outscoring opponents 60-31. A skeptic would keep those six games in the mix, and say that the Niedermayer Ducks are 17-7-3, outscoring opponents 65-49.

It's a petty argument, really, deciding whether the Ducks are truly great or merely very good. Your thoughts are welcome in the comments, but I'll close on this note: even if I include the Six Games of Suck™, since Niedermayer's return on Dec. 16, the Ducks own the league's best defense (1.81 goals-allowed per game) and the league's best penalty kill (88.0%). It's taken a while, but Anaheim now looks very capable of defending their title (though playoffs are always a crapshoot), something I wouldn't have said with much gusto before Scott's return.

Go Ducks.

22 comments:

JP said...

Have they gone from "suck" to "blow"?

Earl Sleek said...

I guess so, JP, though my scale goes from "Anaheim Sucks" to "Anaheim Ducks".

I'm still a bit torn on what to do with those six games (flat-out removing them seems disingenuous and self-serving), but in a way, it is very encouraging to have all your suckage in one set of games.

If the six games are indeed the exception, then wow it will be in interesting spring.

spade-in-victorhell said...

the fact were at home the next couple weeks...lets me belive the worst is behind us...also sami is back...Ill drink the coolade for now...a strong game against "thorn in our side" dallas would be a huge confirmation that were back...

kevin said...

27 games ago, I'd have taken 17-7-3 in a heartbeat.

17-7-3 projects out to about 28-29 points for the remaining 21 games, putting the Ducks right around 100. 14 of those 21 are at home, and the Ducks leave California only five more times. Things are not looking too bad.

Earl Sleek said...

a strong game against "thorn in our side" dallas would be a huge confirmation that were back...

Yeah, no kidding. I don't even care that much about the standings, or even that much about the game result, but I need to know that the Ducks can play competently against the Stars.

Still, the timing is a bit tough for a win-or-else. The last Star to lose a game was Mike Ribiero against the Eastern All-Stars.

Finny said...

I'm just glad the team is back and in form. That six game stretch was a heartbreaker....

Morbo said...

Totally unsupported or unresearched rambling, but my guess would that the 6 games of suck basically were a microcosm of this entire season for the Ducks.

It's Jekyl and Hyde for this team since game 1. Some periods they look unstoppable, like last yr's playoff Ducks. Being tenacious on the forecheck, physical, truculent, and just generally dickish. (a good sign of the Ducks playing a good game is how many guys on the other team are not just pissed, but absolutely furious at Perry)

Some periods they look like the 99 Ducks. Completely lost and lack of effort. Like everyone decided to take a day off and just go through the motions.

Earl Sleek said...

Good points, Morbo. One thing that I failed to point out was in the Game 35-50 stretch, there were definitely a few games that the Ducks won that they probably didn't deserve to. So I think that record is probably a bit overstated.

Still, I think a lot of the unreasonable inconsistency stuff is probably largely over; you have to like the effort in the last five, right?

Anonymous said...

I think Morbo is on to something there. I notice that when they try to play a finese game they lose. When they play thier tough physical style they usually win. If there is a smoking gun maybe it would be looking at how many hits they delivered in the bad streach vs. the good strech. Either way I am glad they are back on track.

-Mike in OC

Earl Sleek said...

Well, hits is kind of subjective (probably varies from rink to rink), and I'm not sure it's going to be the best measure.

6 games before slump:
106 hits, 34 by defensemen

6 games of slump:
143 hits, 34 by defensemen

5 games since:
107 hits, 25 by defensemen

During the slump, I don't think that it was that the Ducks stopped hitting, it was more that they hit without purpose, or hit instead of pursuing scoring chances, things like that.

spade-in-victorhell said...

I think maybe the reason for the 6 game cra-ola and overall inconsistancy was the fact perry and getz were the number one line this year...so they had to face the other teams checking lines.(im stealing this from earl) and there young and get discouraged and/or frustrated easy...that make teemu a god-send...devolping at the minimum a decent 2nd line...will be the key and is what won us the cup last year...in the playoffs last years teams couldnt figure out exactly which line was really the first line...with perry and getz's emergence...

Earl Sleek said...

Good stealing, Spade.

Even when Teemu's production went south in the postseason (his 5 postseason goals tied him with Rob frickin' Niedermayer), I still thought he was playing a valuable role, if for no other reason than he was drawing the top defenders away from Getzlaf-Perry-Penner. The Ducks' second line under Carlyle usually has it really sweet--they don't worry about the other team's top scorers or top defenders, and thus it's reasonable to expect some sort of production from those easier minutes.

That's why McDonald was such a letdown this year--he couldn't milk those minutes for anything, though he did have some crappy linemates.

So even if Getz & Perry aren't lighting the lamp as much as they could be (and I'm ready to put Bertuzzi back up there to spark something), I'm still not that upset -- they are at least making things easier for other lines.

JavaGeek said...

Just to add some objectivity.
1. Game against Detroit
2. Two games in those 6 Anaheim played on the road while playing the night before (back to back)
3. 5/6 of the games were on the road.
4. One was a shoot-out loss

Earl Sleek said...

No, you're right JG, at least in part. I think it may be a case of 4 games of suck, because the first two losses (@DAL, and DET) were probably to be expected, and the DET loss in particular ended really close.

But after that, it didn't really resemble the same team, especially the Getzlaf line. And the regular 3-0 deficit certainly wasn't typical.

4. One was a shoot-out loss

Yeah, one with zero goals-scored. Legace had to make two semi-breakaway saves in the first period and the shutout was mostly sealed after that.

Kirsten said...

Karma kicked my ass for gloating about those six games...

Itlan said...

Sometimes I like to just stare at this page: http://www.totalviewsports.com/nhl.htm
That playoff run was a bit of a roller-coaster. And they figured it out each round just in time.

Earl Sleek said...

Itlan, that link is flat-out awesome (for Duck fans). That's the first place I'm headed the next time I feel even remotely stressed out.

spade-in-victorhell said...

just checked out that link...waaa? andy mac had 10 goals?...with exception to the finals...i dont remember him scoring at all....wow

Earl Sleek said...

Andy Mac was huge in the Finals (though Emery was the weakest goalie of the bunch), but he also had a pretty good series against Vancouver. Most of that was his hat trick in G1 of that 2nd-round series, with 2 scored against Luongo and 1 against Sabourin.

Bryan said...

I think part of it is that at the beginning of the season, most people would have said that Niedermayer's retirement hurt the Ducks more than Selanne's especially with Getzlaf and Perry showing huge improvements in the postseason. As this season progressed, I think it was Selanne who was missed more. Partly because Niedermayer had a comparable replacement as opposed to Selanne. Also, we all know Getzlaf is the franchise forward but he still has a ways to go. Aside from Edmonton and maybe a couple others Chicago and Phoenix, I can't think of any other teams in the west where Getzlaf would be the best forward on the team. So Selanne was definitely missed more than Nied.

Earl Sleek said...

I dunno Bryan, I kind of feel the opposite. Look at the improvement in the second phase--that's pretty much Niedermayer plus Weight-for-Andy-Mac. I don't know if Scott was adequately replaced this summer, though Schneider definitely missed some pre-Scott time.

And as for the last phase, it's been impeccable, but most of it's been built through defense. I'm a big Teemu supporter, but I don't think he would change very much on the defensive end. It is worth noting, though, that Schneider came back after two games the same game as Selanne, and Pahlsson followed soon after.

My opinion's been the same since the summer: the way this team was built, Scott was the critical return. Teemu is icing on the cake.

voxel said...

I argue that the six games of suck were due to bad bounces... and their recent wins were lucky bounces (against the Wings and pathetic Atlantic teams like Isles + Rangers).

The team definitely has more speed with Teemu back, but goals are not raining down on them. The PP is better, but I can't say the PK is that much better.