The Anaheim Ducks opened their season last Friday in Detroit, the first of a three game road trip. They were outscored 14-2 throughout the nine periods of play and had the highest number of penalty minutes out of all 30 NHL teams.
They played their home opener against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, hoping to change their fortunes and for one brief shining moment it seemed that they had. Ryan Getzlaf scored the Ducks first home goal, and third total of the season, less than three minutes into the first period.
However, within the next couple of minutes the Canucks had a 2-1 lead.
The Ducks defense was a big question mark even before the season started, but it’s only grown since. Early in the preseason, Toni Lydman experienced a bout of double vision, and while he has been cleared to practice, has not yet been cleared to play in games. Then, veteran Andy Sutton fractured his thumb during the first regular season game in Detroit and will not be able to play for the next 6-8 weeks.
On Monday, the Ducks announced the signing of free agent veteran, Andreas Lilja. The ex-Red Wing, however, is currently unable to appear on the ice for the Ducks, due to work visa issues.
However, the defensive woes are not the only problem plaguing the Ducks. The offense, after being flustered again and again after opening weekend, began acting on their frustrations getting into unnecessary fights and spending excessive time in the penalty box rather than channeling their frustration into shooting the puck towards the opposing goaltenders.
Conversely, about halfway through Wednesday’s game, something in the offense seemed to click. The second period ended tied at two and the Ducks added two more in the third to pull out a 4-3 victory, their first of the season.
Throughout the first three games, the Ducks top line was entirely scoreless, but after Wednesday night, each of them had a goal.
“It was time for it,” Getzlaf noted. “When our line is effective, we slow that game down and are able to play with the puck more.”
“They took the responsibility upon themselves,” added coach Randy Carlyle. “They are proud people. They are not World-class hockey players because they don’t have a conscience.”
Though happy with the win, the Ducks know they still have a long way to go.
“By no means are we out of the woods yet,” stated Carlyle. “We just have to build on this and be ready when we come to work tomorrow.”
The Ducks will continue their home stand this coming Friday against the Atlanta Thrashers.