Losing 3-0 to the Rangers? That was pretty bad. Losing 5-0 to the Blues at home? That was just plain terrible. But losing 6-3 to the Maple Leafs? The team that hadn’t won a game all season and hadn’t earned a point since opening night of the regular season? Absolutely inexcusable.
The Ducks have reached a new low, something that is impressive considering how bad they’ve been playing recently. Already on a three-game home losing streak, the Ducks stretched their streak to four games against the worst team in the league. Well…maybe the Ducks should be considered the worst team now that Toronto has beaten them.
It wasn’t all the Ducks’ fault. Actually, it can easily be argued that it wasn’t the Ducks fault at all that they lost tonight. I can make a very convincing case that the Ducks lost this game because of the worst officiating I can remember seeing. The calls were so bad and so lopsided in favor of Toronto that I, and many other Ducks fans sitting around me tonight, began to laugh because of how ridiculous the calls were. The Ducks were called for 17 penalties in the game.
The result of the Ducks’ parade to the penalty box was five power-play goals against, including three five-on-three goals and a four-on-three goal. Just reading that last sentence makes it painfully obvious how bad the officiating was.
But let’s not stray from the point too much. Sure the Ducks got screwed, for lack of a better term, by the referees tonight. But this was just a bad game played by the Ducks and it became difficult to watch at some points. The passing was the worst I’ve seen since the Disney days, there wasn’t a single breakout play that was successful, there was soft play all around, and we couldn’t kill a penalty.
I’ve tried to be positive in previous posts, writing about the good and the bad of each game, but there is little that can be said that isn’t negative. Scott Niedermayer getting angry and showing some emotion was probably the highlight of the night. Brendan Mikkelson finished as a plus-2, but personal statistics are of little consequence in such a disastrous loss.
This was just the worst game of the year.
You’d think that the Ducks would do anything possible to prevent giving up six more goals on home ice, but they just were not capable. The Ducks have now allowed 21 goals in the last four home games. For the mathematically challenged, that’s an average of 5.25 goals against per game. No wonder the Ducks haven’t won a game.
There’s really not much more that can be said about a game this bad. It was badly officiated, but the Ducks didn’t deserve to win either. A good power play is useless if the penalty kill gives up twice as many goals, and a goalie can only make so many great saves when there are upwards of 35 shots of game against every night (Toronto had 39 shots tonight).
The Ducks’ first goal, the opening goal of the game, came about halfway through the first period. Niedermayer got the puck from the half boards and circled back to the point before passing the puck across to Petteri Nokelainen. The right-handed Nokelainen one-timed the puck for the goal as Todd Marchant skated through the top of the crease to block goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s view.
The Ducks lead would only last about four minutes, though, as the Maple leafs scored three consecutive power play goals. Here’s a not-so-fun fact: this was Toronto’s first lead since the first game of the regular season, 25 days ago.
The Ducks’ next goal came while they were on the power play, this time in the second period. Corey Perry was wide open and brought the puck from behind the net before sliding it across the crease for a waiting Bobby Ryan, who quickly wristed the puck into the top of the net to pull the Ducks within one goal.
The Leafs then scored three more goals, two on the power play, before the Ducks would finish the scoring at even strength. Ryan Getzlaf was at the right point as he passed the puck across the blue line to Mikkelson. Mikkelson then skated to his left, with his head up all the way, before sending a hard pass between the circles to Perry. Perry laid stick on the ice and just redirected the puck towards the net and past Gustavsson for the final goal of the game.
Ducks fans have already called for the heads of many players they feel are not playing well. But things don’t turn around quickly, they might start pointing fingers at Head Coach Randy Carlyle. I know I’m starting to look that direction, because there no excuse for losing with the lineup the Ducks have.
From TSN and the Canadian Press:
Niklas Hagman scored three of Toronto’s five power-play goals, and the Maple Leafs finally earned their first victory of the season, 6-3 over the struggling Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.
Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves in his first start in nearly three weeks as Toronto repeatedly capitalized on Anaheim’s 17 penalties and all-around sloppy play. The Maple Leafs scored four goals while Anaheim had just three skaters on the ice, including three two-man advantage goals.
Petteri Nokelainen, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry scored for the slumping Ducks, whose penalty-killers struggled even more than the Maple Leafs’ league-worst unit. Jonas Hiller stopped 33 shots, but couldn’t keep up with the Maple Leafs’ lengthy advantages during Anaheim’s fourth straight loss.
The Ducks have given up 21 goals during their skid.
Mikhail Grabovskiscored a two-man advantage goal for Toronto in the first period, and Hagman converted another two-man advantage midway through the second. Kaberle added a 4-on-3 goal with 13:49 to play during yet another delayed penalty by the Ducks, and Hagman completed his hat trick with 9:50 left on yet another 5-on-3 goal.
Kaberle had a goal and four assists, while Stempniak contributed a goal and three assists. Matt Stajan added three assists.
Toronto general manager Brian Burke watched from the press box in his new team’s first visit to the franchise he led to its lone Stanley Cup title in 2007. Burke left the Ducks last November, saying he wanted to work closer to his family, and swiftly took over the Maple Leafs.
Former teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Francois Beaucheminexchanged shoves and nearly fought in the first period after Getzlaf hit the former Anaheim defenceman with a high check. Perry ended up with a double minor for roughing after the 10-man scrum.
Toronto got a two-man advantage moments later, and Grabovski capitalized on a slick behind-the-net pass from Stajan. Hagman scored 1:16 later on the same power play.
The rough play continued in the second period when Stempniak nearly left his skates to send Todd Marchantinto the boards, hitting the back of his head on the glass. Stempniak wasn’t penalized, but Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayergot a roughing penalty in the ensuing shoving match, giving Toronto another two-man advantage — and Hagman capitalized again.
Ryan added a power-play goal late in the second, ending a six-game goal drought with just his second goal and fourth point of an unimpressive season for the top-line wing.
NOTES: Gustavsson hadn’t played since Oct. 6 after injuring his groin. Toronto activated him from injured reserve Sunday. … Expatriate Canadians didn’t come close to filling the Honda Center for just the Leafs’ third visit in more than 11 years. Toronto’s last two visits to Anaheim were in November 2003 and January 2008. … Toronto won’t match the longest skid in team history, when the Leafs lost 10 straight from Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 1967 before winning the Stanley Cup later that year.