The season is still very young for the Anaheim Ducks, but that won’t keep us from looking at the team through a microscope. Let's hope that the samples we're currently collecting will soon be obsolete, or else it's going to be a very long season for both the team and the fans.
Let's take a look at what's working for the team, and what isn't. We'll also look at who's making a name for themselves, both good and bad.
Unfortunately, at this point, very little is working for the Ducks. On both ends of the ice, the team is struggling. Offensively, they are barely showing a spark. Defensively, they aren't even on the same page.
The power play unit is having trouble getting set up and has already given up a shorthanded goal. On the other hand, the Ducks are still taking careless penalties and relying on a weak penalty killing unit to do the dirty work.
What are they doing well? Not much, but there is promise.
Unfortunately in each of the two games thus far, both Jonas Hiller and JS Giguere have given up four goals apiece. Ironically, I find that this is somewhat a positive for two guys currently playing behind a less than stellar defense. However, the best news is that we may be seeing a spark from the Jiggy that fans know and love from previous years.
Much like the start of last season, first line superstars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry aren't playing up to their potential (is it too soon to ask Ryan Getzlaf to take another trip to the dentist?). While Bobby Ryan didn't begin the season with Anaheim last year, we're expecting a lot from the kid this season after his Calder nominated performance in 2008/2009.#
Ultimately, this All Star line has yet to show both fans and the rest of the NHL what they've got. This is surprising considering the connection they were making at the end of the last season.
They are currently the only returning line the Ducks have in their line up, and to see them struggling is definitely frustrating. Once they find that net though, chances are they'll be unstoppable. Or so we hope.
In addition to the top line, Bob Murray went out this summer to find scoring depth to help at times like these when goals are at a premium. Saku Koivu and Joffrey Lupul are playing alongside Ducks veteran Teemu Selanne, and while these are three proven goal scorers, it's expected that chemistry for this line will take time.
Again, we just hope that this is sooner or later. Saku Koivu is showing that he's a dominating player who is smart with the puck and has an amazing shot. Koivu may be a small guy, yet he doesn't shy from the physical play...now if we can only convince his line-mates to play that same physical style, the second line might go somewhere.
While the offense is slowly trying to find their "connection", the defense isn't doing any better. Veteran leader, Scott Niedermayer, can only play so many minutes.
Ryan Whitney, James Wisniewski, and Sheldon Brookbank round up the list of players returning from last season, however none of those guys played a full 82 games for the Ducks and none of them are caliber players like Chris Pronger or Francois Beauchemin.
Before the season began, there were hopes that Ryan Whitney might be a potential replacement for Chris Pronger or that James Wisniewski would provide the offensive style we've seen from Francois Beauchemin.
However, these players have yet to come through. Currently, it turns out that the questionable defensive system the Ducks have in place is as shaky as was predicted.
In terms of positivity, Luca Sbisa, has managed to make a name for himself. While Sbisa still has much to learn, and is hopefully taking notes from the book of Niedermayer, each shift he takes is pushing him in the right direction.
He has tremendous speed, great hands and is very smart with the puck. Here's hoping he develops into an All Star in the next few weeks. Is that asking too much? Yeah, I thought so too.
Meanwhile, there are a handful of other players who have been laying low for the most part. Someone should probably tell them that the season has started.
Looking ahead at the next few games.
The Ducks are either going to take the challenge of these next three games and improve drastically or fail miserably. They are rarely your middle of the road type of team. They tend to play better among bigger challengers, but they also have a tendency to play too dramatically and take unnecessary penalties (as we saw against Minnesota recently).
Hopefully one day we can throw this broken record out with the trash, because it's really old.
Fans are likely crossing their fingers that Pronger and his Flyers are dirtier that the Ducks for a change and the power play opportunities go in the Ducks favor. There is a chance that the Ducks come home at the end of this road trip with a few wins under their belt. Realistically, they're just going to come home.
No matter what...GO DUCKS!!!