Are the Ducks Ready to Keep Up?

by | Jan 6, 2024

Are the Ducks Ready to Keep Up?

by | Jan 6, 2024

Anaheim–Are the Ducks finally getting to where they  can hang with better teams? Their recent games, all losses, have been close, so that was the hope. It was also the early appearance of things Friday night with the Jets in town. The story was what it has been: John Gibson held Anaheim in early, and the Ducks backed up  his play  with some big hits. They got the lead, and held it for a time, and then Winnipeg started to take the momentum. Anaheim never gave up, though, pushing back to the end.

A Jets victory was expected, with the numbers being what they were, coming in. The visitors had 123 goals for. The Ducks had 94. The Jets had allowed 91 goals, and the Ducks, 124, so nearly opposite numbers in all cases. That didn’t translate to this game, though, because while the Jets did surge to tie the game in the early second period, the Ducks didn’t let the game get away at that point.

Some pretty plays resulted. Ross Johnston spotted Cam Fowler sneaking towards the Jets’ net across the zone and put a pass right on his stick. Fowler took a low shot that Laurent Brossoit guarded with his stick covering the spot between his feet. So often, the puck finds a hole there in today’s method of goaltending, where going down leaves the spot exposed long enough for the puck to sneak through.

The Jets’ first goal was actually scored after that, but the Ducks then came back with extended zone time. They went topsy-turvy in their attack, Zegras at the point controlling play, but play broke up with Fowler passing to Zegras, who tried to feather a puck to the slot but had it hit a skate on the way over. The Jets responded with two plays where Gibson again saved the day. His second save was a quick flick of the leg on a shot that was taken in close. Mason Appleton left the area shaking his head on that one.

The Jets stayed strong into period three, but so did Anaheim, each team leading the charge at times. Killorn had a shot that Brossoit made a glove save on, and then the Jets got goal number two. The puck went from defenseman Dylan Samberg to Vlad Namestnikov, to Nate Schmidt coming right down the slot. His goal was his first of the season, and he described it after the game.

“I think I was yelling at Samberg for half the zone. You get a little scared when you see your D partner lead the rush and you’re the next one up . .  . . Fetts [Cole Perfetti] was giving me a little grief for looking him off, but he got his redemption [a goal] about five minutes later.”

That third goal, putting Winnipeg up 3-1, would be all there were, with the Jets surviving the early deficit. Nikolaj Ehlers described the comeback by saying, “I think the first [period] was not the best, but after that we started to feel a little bit better. Played a little more simple, and when you do that, you can skate a little bit faster. I thought in the third period, we did enough to win.”

The Ducks, to their credit, did pour on the pressure late, helped by a penalty call with around three minutes left in the game. They also pulled their goalie for the minute remaining after the minor was up. This combination of events yielded six shots, for an ending tally of 37 Ducks to 28 Winnipeg. Still, the Ducks coach was not happy with the numbers. “We had some possessions where we should have shot, but we didn’t. There were at least three, four.” This is  a theme he’s been working for a few weeks at least. Note that your eyes would tell you that while the team is still, as Darryl Sutter used to say, sometimes trying to “pass the puck into the net” rather than shoot it, they’re doing so less often that prior.

For the Jets, “It starts with our goaltending. That’s a fantastic duo,” said Schmidt. Earlier, Ehlers had said almost the same thing, commenting, “The goaltending that we’ve had this season is best in the league, best in the world. Outstanding every single night. You let in one in the first, and you don’t panic, as a team, which is something that was different last year. We’re confident in both our goalies this year.”

On the opposite side, Coach Cronin of the Ducks looked discouraged as he summed up the game.  He spoke to the question of how important it would be to win the ninth home game played consecutively, which happens on Sunday late afternoon. “I’ve already talked to them about that. We’ve got to try to win Sunday. We’ve got to try to win every game, and the home games, obviously, I’ve told them all the time, crowds have been impressive. They want to see wins. They want to drive home feeling good about themselves. I thought tonight we did enough to at least get a point, and we’ve got to find a way to get two points on Sunday.”

The Ducks have Detroit at 5pm Sunday  before heading out for a road trip which will span six games and nearly  two weeks.

Ever wonder what it would be like if your everyday car was a ZAMBONI?!?!?

Wonder no longer…

Check out The Zambonis' latest hit, "Slow Whip"!