Anaheim Ducks 8 Thoughts Following The Kings and Capitals Games

Mar 5, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Anaheim Ducks celebrate a franchise record 11th consecutive win in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Anaheim Ducks celebrate a franchise record 11th consecutive win in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Anaheim Ducks walked away with a big win in L.A. on Saturday but then suffered a disappointing shootout loss Monday night when they faced the Washington Capitals. There was plenty to take away from two very exciting games.

The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings delivered another incredible game on Saturday as that rivalry continues to grow and intensify. The Ducks got a big win in L.A. and came home to take on the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, but walked away with a disappointing shootout loss.

However the Washington game was one of the most exciting games we’ve seen the Ducks play this year against an opponent not named the Kings and there are plenty of positives for Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks to take away from that one.

Here’s 8 thoughts following the Kings and Capitals games.

1. The Streak Is Still Alive?


It has been 29 days since the Anaheim Ducks have lost in regulation. While the franchise best 11 game win streak came to an end Monday night, the Ducks still have a nice little streak going as they have earned at least one point in each of their previous 14 games. The Ducks have not lost back-to-back games since December 21st and 22nd.

The Ducks have also earned 47 out of a possible 58 points since January 1st, not bad.

2. The Ducks Have The Kings Number This Year

Over the past two or three seasons the Ducks-Kings rivalry has gone back and forth. Not this season, the Ducks have won three of the four meetings to this point with two of those victories coming at Staples Center. Safe to say the Ducks have the Kings number this season?

In all three of the Ducks victories over the Kings this season, they have held LA to two goals in each game. While the games between these two teams have been close, the Ducks have outscored the Kings 13-7 so far this season.

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For the Ducks, there are a lot of factors that have contributed to this success. Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg have played a big part in shutting down Kopitar and the Kings top line (despite Kopitar putting up 6 points in the four meetings). Getzlaf, Perry, Rakell and Kesler have also stepped up in big moments, they’ve taken turns producing as one of the four has found the back of the net in each meeting.

It just seems as though the Ducks have figured something out this season and it appears that they matchup much better with the Kings this time around. A lot of that turnaround is due to the Ducks being able to throw out any of their three defensive pairings against any of the Kings top lines. The Ducks are six deep on the back-end and that balance allows them to matchup really well.

A lot of people felt that the Ducks were not on the same level as the Kings or Hawks after deadline. I’m not quite sure what would make anyone believe this. I think the Ducks matchup well with both teams right now and in my mind, they are the favorites to come out of the west at this point.

3. The Ducks Also Matchup Really Well With The Leagues Best Team

While the Ducks have faired well against the Capitals in years past, this years Washington team is a whole different beast. For one, they have the ‘Holt-beast’, Braden Holtby, in net and he has been the biggest difference maker.

Beyond Holtby it’s added speed and skill up the middle with Evgeni Kuznetsov taking the reigns from Nick Backstrom. Oshie and Burakovsky have been difference makers on the wing as well and the Capitals top 6 is as lethal as they come.

However Anaheim handled that speed and skill fairly well, something the Ducks have not done so well at over recent years. Kuznetsov got loose on a few occasions but he was not able to make any flashy behind the back drop passes from in behind the net. Kesler and company did a really good job with defensive zone coverage and clogging the neutral zone which in turn neutralized the speed of Washington at times and Alexander Ovechkin was not given any room to generate scoring chances.

It’s not the fact that they match up well with Washington, it’s that they matchup well with the leagues best team that thrives off of speed and skill, similar to Chicago and say Dallas, two teams the Ducks could face in the playoffs.

4. If You Hadn’t Noticed Already, We’ve Got More Goalie Drama In Anaheim

Freddie Andersen, John Gibson, Andersen, Gibson, Andersen, Gibson.

Boudreau has been rolling with two game rotations for each guy recently so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see Andersen in net Saturday against L.A, or was it?

Gibson had started all three games against the Kings this season before Saturday’s matchup and I absolutely think Boudreau wanted to see how Freddie Andersen would perform seeing the Kings for the first time in quite some time.

Andersen was really good on Saturday and after his strong performance in L.A., it made you wonder whether or not Bruce would ride the hot hand against Washington. He went with Gibson instead and it was the right call.

Both guys played incredibly well in big games and neither looked frazzled by the moment, if you think one of the two has locked up the number one job for the playoffs…. you’re crazy.

I could rally off a number of statistics proving why one should get the nod over the over come playoff time, but at this point it’s going to come down to who Boudreau feels gives his team the best chance to win, as it should.

Andersen has probably been the better goalie lately, but Gibson has time and time again stole the show just as he did with a number of jaw dropping and game saving saves against Washington Monday night.

For the third year in a row it seems we have a goaltending competition leading us into the playoffs, shocking.

5. Ryan Getzlaf The MVP

I’ve mentioned this before, but remember when Bob Murray called out his veterans (a.k.a his captain Ryan Getzlaf) just before Christmas time claiming some of the leaders on the team decided “training for this season was optional.”

After an absolutely embarrassing start to the season, Ryan Getzlaf is now playing like an MVP.

Since December 27th against Philadelphia, which was the first game following Bob Murray’s call out of his veteran leaders, Getzlaf has put up 9 goals 23 assists and 32 points in 31 games. Just over a point per game and he has 4 game winners during that time including the overtime game winner in Chicago back in February.

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The Ducks are 7-1-1 since December 27th when Getzlaf scores and there is a 100% correlation between his recent play and the Ducks march to first place in the pacific. You’ve got to think he’s in the Hart conversation, right?

Getzlaf stepped into a bombing slap shot against Washington Monday night to get the Ducks on the board early on in the game. Does he take that shot in November or even December? He’s shooting the puck more and an aggressive Getzlaf makes this Ducks team better.

6. Nick Ritchie’s On-Ice Consistency and Maturity Not Up To Par, Yet

Heading into the 2014 draft, the knock on Nick Ritchie was a lack of consistency and effort as scouts said the “serious button needed to go off.” His effort during his time with the Ducks should not be in question. He’s been incredibly physical and put his nose down going to the net more often than not.

However it’s his mistakes, instincts and carelessness at times that make you question his consistency right now.

Bruce Boudreau is a coach that notices all the little things his players do, that includes paying attention to how guys skate on and off the ice during a change. I’ve noticed on three or four separate occasions that Nick Ritchie has nearly cost the Ducks a too many men on the ice penalty.

Monday against Washington Ryan Kesler was going to come off for a change after clearing the puck out of the defensive zone. You could see Ritchie sitting on the boards long before Kesler made his way towards the Ducks bench and it was clear he was going to be the first guy over the boards.

Kesler glided towards the bench and Ritchie jumped on the ice well before Kesler was within even a sticks length from the bench. The Capitals played the puck up ice immediately and Ritchie jumped all over it, Kesler had not gotten off and the Ducks were called for too many men.

While Kesler did not make an aggressive effort to get off, it was still a mistake on Ritchie’s part. Boudreau was fuming after the call and looked at Ritchie, nodded towards the box and told him that he would be the one serving the bench minor.

After that penalty in the third period, Ritchie took just one shift that lasted longer than 30 seconds and later in the game he made an extra move at the blue-line that led to an offsides on what could of been a little odd man rush, his night was virtually over after that.

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Careless and questionable plays by Ritchie have continued to catch my eye and you have to believe it’s decisions and plays like these that led to the Ducks sending him down after his first recall and part of the reason why Bob Murray would have liked to keep him in the AHL for this entire year.

However Ritchie has played better of late and his confidence is growing, but it’s the little things that need to be tightened up. While a good 200 foot game is a focal point with young players, it’s also the little decisions and under the radar plays that matter at the NHL level as the game is played at a much faster pace.

The decision making process at the NHL is sped up quite a bit and Nick Ritchie needs to continually adjust and eliminate these small mistakes that will be costly.

7. Where Do Pirri, Stewart and Horcoff Fit In?

Brandon Pirri is getting closer to returning from an ankle injury, Chris Stewart and his now unwired jaw are about three weeks away and Shawn Horcoff is eligible to return from suspension on Friday.

Where do these guys fit in? This is one of those problems you enjoy having.

With McGinn playing well on the Rakell-Perry line, it would be logical to assume Pirri slots in on the Getzlaf line. However Pirri is a left shot and plays primarily up the middle or on the left wing which is a problem as David Perron prefers to play left wing as well despite being a right shot.

Ritchie has been playing with Getzlaf and Perron so maybe Pirri replaces him and it works out. It might have to, because where else do you put Pirri? He has to much offensive upside to be playing on the fourth line.

Stewart could find a home on the fourth line and if Pirri doesn’t fit with Getlaf and Perron then it would seem that right wing is spot is his.

Horcoff likely centers the fourth line or plays on Thompson’s wing.

One more thing nobody is talking about, the Ducks are not healthy. Stewart and Horcoff were playing a huge role and Pirri was brought in to add offense, how good can this team be when all three return?

Scary to think about.

8. The Power Play Has Excelled and So Has Fowler

The Ducks power play has been lights out lately and it seems like they’ve scored in every single game since January 1st.

A major reason behind this recent surge? Cam Fowler.

Fowler had struggled to produce on the power play last season and for the majority of this season. He gets too hesitant at times and finds difficulty getting pucks to the net from the point. His first tendency is often to quickly fake a shot as he tries to set up others but he’s recently been shooting the puck more.

He has 9 power play points in last 12 games, he had 6 power play points in his previous 40 games before that.

We know Vatanen loves to shoot the puck and will get aggressive on the power play, but with Fowler adding that aggressive shoot first mentality, it’s something I believe has led to the Ducks recently red hot power play.

Final Thoughts and Power Rankings

I’ll be tweeting out my power rankings every Monday and Friday morning from here on out. Here are my current top 15 power rankings.

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Anaheim Ducks
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning
  4. Chicago Blackhawks
  5. Los Angeles Kings
  6. St. Louis Blues
  7. New York Rangers
  8. New York Islanders
  9. Dallas Stars
  10. Nashville Predators
  11. Boston Bruins
  12. Florida Panthers
  13. San Jose Sharks
  14. Pittsburgh Penguins
  15. Minnesotta Wild

Next: Ducks Well Represented On Initial World Cup Rosters

The Ducks are in Colorado tonight to take on the Avalanche before heading to St. Louis for one final meeting with the Blues on Friday, big points on the line this week.