Anaheim Ducks Fan Mailbag: 11/03/2014 – 11/09/2014

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Nov 9, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Vancouver Canucks left wing Alex Burrows (14) moves the puck between Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) and defenseman Bryan Allen (5) during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2. The Ducks offense has had struggle scoring. Anaheim has no need for Bryan Allen anymore, so can’t the team just unload him and buy low on a forward prospect or a veteran scorer?

– Andrew

Jason: I’ve been harsh and extremely critical of Bryan Allen during his tenure here in Anaheim, but I’m a bit wary of dealing him. For some reason, he’s not allowed to make small mistakes, yet mistakes by Vatanen, Lindholm, and Fowler are constantly overlooked. Allen, for the most part, has played a solid two games since his return from a hamstring ailment. He’s a physical presence on the blue-line and gives the team solid depth on defense, something this team has needed with injuries to Ben Lovejoy, Mark Fistric, and Fowler.

Allen’s a fine depth defenseman, and he’d probably be the seventh defenseman when the team gets Lovejoy back. Yes, Josh Manson has played very well in limited action with Anaheim, but he’s not going to get regular playing time when the Ducks’ regular six defensemen are healthy. He and Mat Clark need to be playing as many games as possible, which means they will return to the AHL, where they will get ice time rather than time in the press box with every game.

Yes, Allen has a cap hit of $3.5 million this season, a fair bit for a player who should ideally only be on the third pairing or seventh option on the team. But to acquire a forward prospect or a scoring veteran forward would require someone more enticing than Allen (mostly because of that contract). It would also probably require an attached draft pick, which are assets that the Anaheim organization values as a budget team that has built its core with homegrown players. It’s easy to talk about trading Allen, but actually doing so is a bit more difficult, and the returns won’t be that significant. Yes, Fistric is cheaper, but Allen is also a better player than Fistric (even if they are similar).

Besides, Allen’s contract is up after this season, and if the youth movement for Anaheim continues, he probably will not be offered a contract by Bob Murray. His cap hit will come off the books, giving the team some financial flexibility to re-sign some of its key components (like Matt Beleskey, who’s having a terrific season thus far and will enter unrestricted free agency after this year).

The Ducks’ offensive woes are mostly for three reasons. First, their two franchise cornerstones in Getzlaf and Perry have each missed time, with Perry missing the past three games because of the flu. Perry leads the team with 11 goals, four more than the next highest scorer (Beleskey, who has seven). Getzlaf and Perry are depended upon to score goals at crucial times, and with them out of the lineup, players who are usually relied on as depth scorers suddenly become the “go-to” guys. Perry’s return to the lineup should help the Ducks in the goal-scoring department.

Another reason is that the team not playing a full 60 minutes. Against the Islanders, the Ducks fell behind early and looked lost for the first 30 minutes before turning on a switch and thoroughly outplaying New York for the final period and a half of regulation. Against Arizona, The Ducks let up for about five minutes in the second period, allowing the Coyotes to score two goals in 58 seconds to tie the game. The Ducks were in complete control, yet because of a lack of focus, they stopped winning puck battles and were stuck in their own zone at times. The same thing happened on Sunday against Vancouver: most of the team didn’t battle as hard after Vatanen’s goal.

Lastly, the Ducks have run into some solid goaltending performances of late. Great chances are great chances, but sometimes, a goalie is just sharp. Andersen and Gibson have each stolen games for the Ducks this season (Andersen’s 39 save effort against Philadelphia, Gibson’s 38 save shutout against Chicago). Mike Smith, after an ugly start to his season, has a 1.99 GAA and .939 SV% in his last five games, stopping 153 of 163 shots, including 37 of 39 against Anaheim on Friday. Eddie Lack, who had allowed at least three goals in all of his starts this season, stopped 28 of 29 shots against Anaheim on Sunday while picking up his first win of the season.

I don’t really believe that the team needs to go out and make a trade for a scoring forward because of three consecutive overtime-losses. The Ducks did that to themselves because in those games, they were controlling the puck and the pace of play when they were skating and working in the corners. When that wasn’t happening, all three opponents had their way. Injuries and such are a factor, but there is no denying that the Ducks were beating NHL teams and controlling play with the 18 skaters they had dressed on each of those nights. The lack of execution and competitive edge is as much to blame as anything, as their time in the offensive zone suffered once those elements were missing. Anaheim is in fine shape. They just need to string as complete a game together as possible and continue bringing pressure.