Anaheim Ducks: Olympians Who Can't Win

SKCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 23:  Mike Brown #13 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on December 23, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Anaheim is 41 games into the regular season.  Did anyone think the Ducks would be this team?

No, I'm not referring to the team who has an astounding seven players (and prospect Luca Sbisa) headed to the Olympic games. I'm talking about the team who's got a record of 16-18-7.

The same team who is desperately hanging onto 13th place in the Western Conference.

As if that was a good thing.

I'm talking about the team who's got three of their top six forwards sitting on the sidelines nursing injuries.  You know who I'm talking about—that guy who lead the team in assists last year with 66, or the guy who has the scoring touch on the power play, and the one who was a big part of the trade for the defensive monster Chris Pronger.

The Ducks sure could use Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, and Joffrey Lupul right about now.

While the Ducks have been (somewhat) lucky to have Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu, and Dan Sexton to provide a very small portion of offense, Randy Carlyle still insists on splitting up the only good thing the Ducks have right now.  Meanwhile, Corey Perry continues to struggle on his own without his partner in crime Getzlaf to get him the puck in those open spaces that Perry thrives upon.

Since going on that astounding 19 game point streak earlier this season, Perry has hit an unfortunate slump.  His last goal came in a 3-1 win against Columbus back on Dec. 12.  Since then, Perry has picked up a meager four assists in the last nine games.

That's not going to help this struggling team.

The most startling trend for the Ducks is a despicable power play.  The services of Selanne and Getzlaf have hindered the power play in an overwhelming fashion.  Having scored once in the last 18 attempts, the Ducks have given up short-handed opportunities and an alarming number of scoring chances while on the man advantage.

That's right, the man ADVANTAGE.

For a team barely finding the net at even strength, being unproductive on the power play means one thing...

The defense better be amazing.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, it's not.

Nothing is amazing for this team.  In addition to the depleted offense, the Ducks are suffering through goaltending weakness and a defensive system that is generally non-existent.

The Ducks can't rely on Mike Brown to do their goal scoring, Scott Niedermayer to play 60 minutes a night, and the hopes that Carlyle has chosen the right goaltenders name out of a hat for the night.

At such a crucial turning point in the season (as if there is only one "crucial" turning point during a season), not one part of the Ducks system is working.  Not the offense, the defense, the goaltending, and certainly not the coaching.

If only they had a few more Olympians to get them through this difficult time.

For the hundredth time this season, we ask; what can be done to fix this team?

I don't believe any of the answers have changed.  The Ducks need to get healthy and stay healthy.  The constant shifting and shuffling of lines and players here and there on both offense and defense has done nothing to enable unity amongst the team.  On a nightly basis there is a constant theme of inconsistency.

Defensively, the Ducks need stronger personalities.  One thing Chris Pronger brought to the front of the net was the essence of territorial dominance.  If you dared to enter Pronger's patch of ice, be prepared to pay the price.  The Ducks don't have the menacing defensive strength needed to aid Jonas Hiller and J.S. Giguere in their quest to regain confidence in the net.  Something they're both clearly lacking.

While it's understandable that a weak defense would expose holes in a goaltenders performance, it's apparent the Ducks are having to rely on two men who are not playing to their potential.  Strong goaltending was something I'm sure the organization didn't feel would be an issue at the beginning of the season.  However, now the men between the pipes aren't stealing games the way many hoped they would.

As previously discussed, the offense is not living up to expectations either.  Sure, there have been moments where sparks are evident, like unknown rookies scoring four goals in five games, or Olympic hopefuls going on 19 game scoring streaks.  But in terms of offensive domination, there has been very little of that.

Of course, there is the ever-popular management change.  Whether it is GM Bob Murray or coach Carlyle, sometimes a new direction is all a team needs to get on the right track.

The season is halfway over, and their train hasn't even left the station.