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Ducks Gameday -- Baldy's back, commence first period suckitude!

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Anaheim Ducks (29-21-4) at Vancouver Canucks (35-10-9), 7 pm
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At first, I was going to write about Ray Emery today -- he cleared waivers and has been assigned to Syracuse, and the pun of the day was something about how the Ducks avoided "Emery loss".  But no -- there's bigger stories in Duckville today: Jonas Hiller is on the IR for tonight's game, Aaron Voros is on waivers, and after a 14-game absence, Captain Baldy is back.

As such, I wanted to do a comparison of the Ducks' first forty games with Getzlaf in the lineup (19-17-4) with the fourteen games he missed (10-4-0), to sort of examine what the Ducks have been doing successfully in Getzlaf's absence.  Obviously one area is the power play -- Ducks went 16 for 47 (34.0%) without Getzlaf in the lineup, compared to 20.6% for the first 40 games -- we'll see tonight whether Baldy gets himself back on the top unit or not.

But another possibly-related area particularly impacted during Getzlaf's absence was first period success; without Baldy, the Ducks played the starts of games much better than they used to.  Check out the table below:

Anaheim's First Periods -- With and Without Ryan Getzlaf

40 games with
Getzlaf in lineup
14 games without
Getzlaf in lineup
First Period Goals For, Goals Against 23 GF, 34 GA (-11) 15 GF, 8 GA (+7)
Times the Ducks scored first 20 times (50%)
11 times (79%)
Times the Ducks led after one 8 times (20%)
8 times (57%)
Times the Ducks trailed after one 13 times (33%)
2 times (14%)

It's probably worth noting -- the game that Getzlaf got injured the Ducks scored 3 first period goals, so Anaheim's first 39 games featured only 20 Ducks first period goals.  Still, the numbers seem damning -- Getzlaf's Ducks don't seem to take early leads with any frequency, and the team has lost several games before the first intermission.  And it's particularly stunning that the Ducks have won as many first periods without Getzlaf as they did with Getzlaf.

Now not all of this is Getzlaf's fault, obviously -- he shared the ice with plenty of talented skaters who also weren't scoring in the first period.  And also: the Pep Boys were in the lineup for only 19 of Getzlaf's 40 games (13-5-1); since his absence they've played in 12 of 14 games (9-3-0), so some of Baldy's apparent failure should fall on the shoulders of the coach.

But still -- it is a concern.  Getzlaf is the captain and does control the puck during a lot of our potentially-offensive moments; if he's not being productive in the first period, it's going to bite us.  Overall, Ducks are 15-1-0 when leading after one and 3-12-1 when trailing after one -- here's hoping that the Ducks' focus on the early portion of the game continues even in the presence of the Bald One.

Aside: I thought I'd take a quick interlude and focus a bit on a team that doesn't get much attention over here -- the Boston Bruins.  Since the start of December, Boston has been trucking along at a fantastic pace, picking up 18 wins in 31 games played.  Against non-BoC opponents during that stretch, the Bruins have averaged 3.61 goals-for-per-game, an impressive figure in this modern era.  However, the three times the B's had to face a BoC opponent during that stretch, the Bruins' average drops to 0.00 goals-for-per-game.  That's right -- 3 BoC opponents, 3 times shut out.

It's not that Tim Thomas has been bad -- over the three games, he has only allowed 6 goals on 76 shots, a .921 save percentage.  But when Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Quick, and Antti Niemi are combining to stop all 105 Boston shots, what can you do?

December 20: Ducks 3, Bruins 0.
January 24: Kings 2, Bruins 0.
February 5: Sharks 2, Bruins 0.

Battle of California 7, Boston Bruins 0.

I know this isn't the traditional trigger for the cartoon below, but when you're a successful team that's been shut out by all three teams from this blog, connectivity of the games is of secondary importance.  Thus...

I was very close to drawing this on hotel stationery, but I can't cheat tradition.

See you next season, B's!

Prediction: Tonight's game is on Fox Sports West?  Awesome -- I'll be around tonight, watching from my hotel room.  Ducks 4, Canucks 2.  Baldy forgets to suck in the first period -- goals by Perry, Ryan, Lubo, and Maximus.

Go Ducks.