Anaheim Ducks – PEETERS: LEAVE THE GOALIES ALONE!!!!
Sunday has rolled around again and with it, 4 more games played by Anaheim. Actually, ‘played’ may not be the right term to use. Dressed out? Clocked in? Played is definitely not how I would describe the overall look of the team this past week.
On Wednesday, October 14, the Ducks hosted the Minnesota Wild. It was a good enough showing as the Ducks won 3-2. Hiller made some good saves and it looked like this home stand was going to be a good one. Corey Perry had 2 of the 3 goals and really, we were all hoping for a hat trick. He came close a couple of times. However, the Ducks did have a 3-0 lead and once again, allowed it to slip away. As it turns out, this is the only win for Anaheim this week.
Saturday, October 17 saw the St. Louis Blues smoke the Ducks 5-0. Hiller started in net, but was replaced after the third goal by JS Giguere. Now, I am a firm believer that you have to watch the goalie position differently than the others; this game is a good example of that. Should Hiller have been pulled for allowing 3 goals? No. Should he be pulled to change the momentum of the game? Absolutely. The momentum did change, but not enough. (Offense couldn’t do a thing to score a goal and the defense…wait. Did we have defense?? This is becoming a theme.) Giguere allowed in 2 more goals; it was a relief when the game ended. Sad that we cheered the end of a game, but there you have it.
The Dallas Stars made their way into Anaheim on Wednesday, October 21. The final score of that game was in Dallas’ favor: 4-2. Hiller was in the net and made a few pretty big errors (more on that later) which resulted in goals. Turco did the same, but luck was on his side that night. The 3rd period showed the Ducks trying hard to come back, but it didn’t happen. Ryan Getzlaf finally got his first goal of the season; he seems a bit slow right now and I have to wonder if his sports hernia surgery and recovery is still an issue. Evgeny Artyukhin had an explosive hit this game; no penalty called, but the NHL later said he was guilty of slew footing the player and suspended him for it. (SIDENOTE: Ovechkin did the same thing a day or two later, but didn’t receive a suspension. Why is that?????? Oh right – he’s not an Anaheim Duck…..)
Saturday, October 24 saw the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Ducks 6-4. Now, there were some positives with this game: the Ducks showed up for the 1st and 3rd periods. However, someone needs to remind these professional athletes that the game is 60 minutes. Giguere was in the net and made some pretty good saves; however, he also made some mistakes. It was in the third period when, I felt, the Ducks finally put a lot of pressure on the Jackets. Joffrey Lupul had 2 goals last night while Scott Niedermayer had one as well. It was Teemu Selanne who tied up the game. The Jackets answered back with the 5th goal; Giguere zigged when he should have zagged and aggravated the groin strain from earlier in the week. This sent Hiller into the net with 3:22 left. He eventually left the net for the extra attacker, but it looked to me as if the Ducks hadn’t realized he left: they allowed the Jackets to move too far near the empty net. And… the Jackets score with Anaheim D-man Ryan Whitney standing in the crease! He looked like he just watched the puck go into the net.
So I sat there last night and earlier today, thinking over the past two weeks worth of games. While I am not a coach, nor a GM, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
• The defense is in desperate need of…something. We have the talent (some say less without Chris Pronger) but it still looks as if they aren’t playing. Too often they have hung their goalies out to dry. Too many defensive miscues are killing Anaheim. Luca Sbisa will be reassigned, it was announced today, so he won’t be seen again for the rest of the season. Too bad really, as I like his play, but I agree with the reasons why.
• The offense needs to really, really step it up. Again – the talent is there. Corey Perry has been producing goals, but where is wunderkind Bobby Ryan? The SOG’s have been low – too low overall. The Ducks have to actually shoot the puck at the net in order to score; even I know that. They are falling into the trap of passing too much and are causing turnovers when they should be shooting.
• Special Teams: PK is doing well at home with about 81% (which is good since fans in attendance get free tacos with successful PKs) but the away PK is at almost 70%. Ouch. PK is where I feel we miss Pronger. Although, one could argue that we have our PK team out on the ice way too much and I have to agree. Anaheim is 15th in the league with PP goals. Ok at best, but who wants to be middle of the road?
• Surprisingly, Anaheim is 22nd in the league with PIM per game. (Hey – it’s early yet, I’m sure we’ll creep up this list really soon. Sarcasm, anyone?) This statistic is deceiving, in my humble opinion: while Anaheim is lower on the list, the penalties received at times were really, really bad timing on the players part. The penalties resulted in goals and game losses.
• Here is where my biggest issue with the whole of the Anaheim Ducks organization lies: goaltending. I will preface by saying that the team as a whole wins or loses; you can’t blame one position over another. However, as I’ve watched these early games, I am noticing something that has changed: puck handling and the goalies. It’s been only a handful of games and I have watched as Jonas Hiller and JS Giguere came out of their crease to play the puck behind the net. It seems as if they played behind the net more in these two weeks than the whole of last season. Why in the world are they in the trapezoid when it seems obvious they are making mistakes when doing so??? My feeling is that Pete Peeters (new goaltending consultant) has decided they need to handle the puck more. Both goalies are making huge mistakes behind the net, and in some cases, with disastrous results. Giguere and Hiller know their own game and know their strengths and weaknesses; if it is indeed Peeters having them come out more, he needs to let them be. Have them work on that during practices, not during games. Again, I am not a coach, but a goalie needs to protect the net. If he screws up behind the net, tell him to stay in his crease!! Why does a goalie need to come out of his crease to play the puck when he has two of his own teammates within a half sticks distance from the puck???? (Last nights game) Hiller and Giguere, in their attempt to handle the puck more, have left their net wide open way too much. With the Anaheim defense playing as they are, the last thing needed is open net.
PETE PEETERS: ALLOW OUR GOALIES TO PLAY THEIR GAME!!!!!
Tomorrow night the Ducks will play Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs. While I am hoping to see Jonas Gustafsson in the net, I am equally hoping that he doesn’t play well.
Thankfully, it’s still very early in the season!
Can someone tell the Anaheim Ducks to show up prepared to play, please? Thanks.
LET’S GO DUCKS!