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Ducks Gameday—Anatomy of a Selanne-less Road Trip

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Columbus Blue Jackets (16-16-4, t-11th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (19-14-4, 6th in west)
I resolve to stop cutting myself with my own skateblade.

Well, it's been quite a holiday break for ol' Sleekster, hasn't it?  I haven't written a post in eight days, but with my kid brother in town I figured I could be lazy.  You know, to give me something to aspire to improve in the new year.

First resolution broken.

The Ducks are returning home from a tough 5-game trip to play the Blue Jackets tonight, and while the trip could have gone better, it certainly could have turned out worse.  On the bright side, the Ducks lost their top goal-scorer early on and started the trip without their #1 goaltender and still walked away with a 2-2-1 record.  On the flipside, the Ducks certainly made their trip tougher by frequenting the penalty box, and had to excel in special teams in order to tread water.  Here's the manpower breakdown fo the 5-game trip:




Power Play



Penalty Kill



































104 - 109



34 - 4



9 - 66


8 - 10



6 - 0



1 - 7

Note the difference in power play time -- the Ducks spent an extra period of hockey shorthanded compared to their opponents.  And yet, despite that fact, they did manage to make special teams a relative wash -- 6 PP goals and 1 shorty for Anaheim vs. 7 PP goals for the opposition.  Still, you have to wonder how well these Ducks could perform if power play time were close-to-evenly distributed.  I'm going to pick on Getzlaf and Perry a bit here -- in the five games, those two scorers combined for 2 hooks, 2 holds, 2 goalie interferences, 2 slashes, 1 trip, 1 rough, 1 interference, 1 unsportsmanlike conduct, and 1 fight.  C'mon, guys.  That's what the fourth line is for.

At any rate, there's another reason for positivity -- Bobby Ryan, who has definitely helped fill the Selanne-void in the roster.  Read on after the jump for a player breakdown for the 5-game trip.

 All stats below are just taken from the past five games.  It's a fairly small sample, so take everything with a grain of salt.  First off, below is the even-strength results for the team, players sorted by position then by total ice time. 

(Click image to enlarge)

In terms of points-per-hour and goal-differential-per-hour, the real winners among the forwards for the trip were Bobby Ryan, Brendan Morrison, and newcomer Andrew Ebbett, who finally seem to have formed an effective secondary offensive line.  It's a small sample, but it's definitely encouraging -- two guys who didn't start the year on the big club, plus it's really nice to see some good results from long-time struggler B-Mo, who I've been cutting a ton of slack. 

(Click image to enlarge)

Bobby Ryan plays a huge part in the power play results, as well, which is probably where Selanne should have been very missed.  What makes Selanne so effective is his willingness to shoot the puck -- during one stretch of games where Anaheim scored 19 power play goals, Teemu scored a whopping 13 of them and assisted on 4 others.  I was worried that a Teemu-less power play would be too pass-happy to be effective, but Ryan has worked his way onto the top unit fairly seamlessly, and the results have been good enough to offset the excessive PK time that the Ducks have brought upon themselves.  Those results are below:

(Click image to enlarge)

As usual, it's been a heavy workload for the penalty killers, and the results have been good enough to keep the team afloat, despite the fact that the Ducks did allow at least one PP goal against in each of the five games.   Compare the goal-differential rates to the top power play unit and you can see that on a per-minute basis, the Ducks' special teams could definitely become a weapon (assuming that they could somehow balance the PP and PK minutes).

All in all, there's still plenty not to like about the Ducks' road trip (the Ducks blew six leads), but I'm still a guy who likes to focus on positivity (I still like that the Ducks had seven leads in five road games).  In general, this season seems to have happened in phases -- at first the top two lines sucked but the third and fourth lines thrived.  Then for a stretch the Getzlaf line woke up and carried this team.  Lately it's been the second line that's carried the day.  Basically, as Ducks fans we've now seen all the components working individually -- while it's true that the Ducks have yet to dominate for any real stretch, if their successful components ever came together for a set of games, watch out!  It hasn't really happened yet, but hey, the Ducks are still hanging in the top eight in the west, and besides, isn't improvement what the new year is all about?  Positivity!

Feel free to leave your own impressions on the team or the road trip in the comments.  Who's been impressing you, who's been depressing you, and how much hope do you have in these Ducks pulling it together in the coming calendar year?

Prediction: Well, it's the last night of 2008, let's end it on a high note.  Ducks 5, Blue Jackets 3.  Goals by Ryan, Getzlaf, Pronger, Pahlsson, and Ebbett.  Have a safe and happy new year's!

Go Ducks.