Anaheim Ducks Gain Speed After a Slow Start To The Regular Season

Liz BrownsteinContributor IOctober 19, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 17:  Toni Lydman #32 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates his goal with Bobby Ryan #9, Corey Perry #10 and Ryan Getzlaf #15 and Lubimor Visnovsky #17 for a 2-0 lead over the Phoenix Coyotes during the second period at the Honda Center on October 17, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

After Anaheim dropped the first three games of the regular season, they have slowly clawed their way back from that 15th ranking in the West with a 2-0-1 record in the most recent three games.

For many, Anaheim was seen as one of two things coming into the season: An enigma or a rebuilding team.  No one really expected the Ducks to be a contender without their defensive wrecking ball known as Scott Niedermayer.  Once Scott Niedermayer retired, most looked toward other teams to be threats in the West, but over the past three games, Anaheim has found a way to prove they are still fighting.

October 13th was the turning point for the Ducks, who were coming off a brutal 5-1 loss to the Blues just two nights earlier, yet Anaheim managed to turn everything around with a 4-3 victory over the Canucks, which caught the eyes of many skeptics.

After three slaughters at the hands of Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis, was Vancouver the start of the real regular season, or just a fluke win?

Two nights later, Anaheim put up a solid effort but was trumped in the shootout by the Thrashers putting the answer to the previous question on hold.  Finally, Sunday night marked the answer with a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, encouraging the thought that even though the Ducks stumbled their way through some tough losses, they were down, but not out. 

How the Ducks managed to turn their game around is demonstrated best in the play of one player: Newly-appointed captain Ryan Getzlaf.

In the first three games, Ryan Getzlaf was held at a disappointing zero points, as were his two line mates, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.  The Ducks Captain also exhibited some of the behavior that contributed to Anaheim's first three losses, in one word: Undisciplined.

Getzlaf, along with his other teammates, was taking numerous useless penalties simply out of anger and lack of control, once he and the team started focusing on the fact that getting the puck in the net wins games, they focused their anger in a more productive manner. In the first Anaheim win of the season, Ryan Getzlaf had a breakout performance of four points.  Since then, Getzlaf has not had a scoreless game and has a team-leading eight points. 

No one can deny that Anaheim's defense was the biggest question mark of the offseason, and after the first three losses, most Duck fans were already preparing for what seemed like a long season to come.  Since then, we have seen Cam Fowler tally the first three points of his NHL career, Toni Lydman score his first two points in a Ducks jersey, and Lubomir Visnovsky tally two points as well.

Despite all the unknowns coming into this season, the defense, with the addition of Adreas Lilja, has started to spark some chemistry between partners and starting to help out goaltender Jonas Hiller.

The Anaheim Ducks may still be on the lower half of the conference standings, currently seated in the ninth ranking; however, with Ryan Getzlaf announced as the NHL's third Star of the Week, and Hiller having several highlight reel saves, including one that found its way to the sixth-best save of the week, the Ducks may be finding a new rhythm in the speed they have gained since those first three brutal losses.