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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.