Three Takeaways for the Anaheim Ducks Through November

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 6: Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Washington Capitals at Honda Center on December 6, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 6: Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Washington Capitals at Honda Center on December 6, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Over November, the Anaheim Ducks went 3-6-4 in thirteen games. After that horrendous skid, the Ducks are now seventh in the Pacific division and twenty-sixth in the league. Although this team didn’t have many expectations, they really sank out of their hot start very quickly. So what happened?

Unfortunately for the Anaheim Ducks, their luck finally caught up with them and they just lost all the momentum they had. Most of the prospects stopped contributing as much, most of the veterans looked sloppy, the offense still could not buy goals, it was all just a mess. For everything to collapse all at once was really unfortunate for the Ducks, but it was most certainly bound to happen. Let’s just start by analyzing the prospects.

Prospects Showing Mixed Results

There is an argument to be made that none of the current prospects playing with the team have made great names for themselves, and then the argument that the prospects have breathed new life into this Anaheim Ducks team also comes up. Both arguments have their validity. Truthfully, it is not inherently the fault of the prospects that they are having such a tough time adapting to the NHL, this team really is not giving them much to work with. For what they do have, some of the prospects have really shined.

When it comes to offensive capability, this is mostly the same Ducks team that came dead last in scoring last season, so adding in inexperienced players is not going to help. Troy Terry, Max Jones, Max Comtois, and Sam Steel combined for ten goals in eighty-nine total games. Ryan Getzlaf has ten goals in just twenty-nine games.

In the month of November, all four of those aforementioned players combined for six goals out of the thirty-two goals scored through the month. Max Jones was pretty hot with three goals in a month while Sam Steel trailed him with two goals. Troy Terry continued to struggle badly while tacking on one goal.

It has become a common occurrence to allow struggling prospects to stick with the main squad considering that Ondrej Kase and Terry are still out there skating. Despite his three goals, Max Jones got sent down. Even if there is a plan under Bob Murray‘s sleeve for doing so, it is an absolute joke of a plan. Murray is just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks at this point, and it is hilarious to see a general manager that does that with absolutely no clue of what he is doing. When you have a prospect like Terry that just looks lost on the ice every night and continues to ruin any offensive momentum the team has, it is mind-boggling that he stays and Jones goes.

And as for the defense, it has been less than great. Brendan Guhle and Josh Mahura really headlined a struggling defense by generating seven points together and playing a fair amount of time out on the ice. For the rest of the defense, they are all experienced and completely underwhelming, so the trophy for the best effort goes to the two young defensemen that made a difference.

Veterans Paving the Way

Certain vets have really surprised so far this year and their efforts have all been spectacular. Does that mean that the veterans are off the hook? Not at all. The likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell have all played big parts in keeping games close enough to either have them won or have them lost in overtime.

Getzlaf has a statline of ten goals, thirteen assists, and twenty-three points. As much as Ducks fans love Getzlaf, it should still come as a surprise that he can light up like that at the age of thirty-four. And Silfverberg trails him with nineteen points as a younger defenseman, the current scoring situation is just absurd.

Rakell finally seems to be bouncing back from last year’s abysmal performance with eight goals, eleven assists, and nineteen points. He is skating well and generating some decent offensive looks, and that is precisely what Anaheim needs from their players. Easily an early Ducks MVP candidate.

For every other skater, it is easy to see how the Ducks are struggling to win games. Adam Henrique and Cam Fowler sit tied at fifteen points each, but everyone under them continues to sit at anywhere from twelve points to just one. But hey, Ryan Miller has a single point for an assist, so at least the goaltending is chipping in.

Simply put, there needs to be an offensive boom from somewhere else. Getzlaf, Rakell, and Silfverberg can not all just carry the team. Giving props to prospect Max Jones again, he really had a hot November and deserved to stay with the team, he finally seems to be getting somewhere in his development. Now someone else needs to follow suit. But more importantly than heating up is the decision on whether to tank or compete.

Sadly Stuck in Neutral

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At this point in the season, the question of whether to tank or compete is still relatively up in the air. For some Ducks fans, they would prefer to compete with the team they have now and deal with more repercussions down the line, but for others, it is obvious that this team is too inexperienced and confused to compete for anything but a nice draft pick.

To our lovely readers, just hear out my thoughts on this before becoming upset. I can not feasibly tell yet whether the Ducks will actually tank or compete, but this is simply what I believe would happen from both situations. Anaheim is now 12-13-4, and there is still over a month left before the NHL All-Star break. They are only four points away from a tie for the last place in the Pacific, and yet they are six points from the second wild-card spot. It is a testament to just how bad most of the Western Conference is, so the situation now is very gray.

One downside of this gray spot is that the rest of the talented Western Conference is already in full swing. For the Ducks team that went 3-6-4 through one month and spoiled all the momentum they had, it is hard to see them leapfrogging over teams like San Jose, Calgary, and Minnesota. And at what point would any team just call it quits and realize that a playoff berth would be a waste of time when the worst comes to fruition and they get swept?

Even if there is a first-round pick involved after that playoffs sweep, it ends up being pointless when the general manager picks someone late like Isac Lundestrom that has eight points in seventeen AHL games that could not cut it in the NHL. Meanwhile, Trevor Zegras has seventeen points in sixteen games and belongs to the Ducks thanks to a bad year.

Does this Anaheim Ducks team have the potential to reach the playoffs? If the rest of the West stays as bad as they are, absolutely. Albeit the team would finally have to figure out a way for everyone to pitch in on scoring while getting rid of defensive liabilities like Erik Gudbranson, but there is a good chance they could. But why waste the time when that playoff berth ends in a sweep to a more talented team like the ’17-’18 Sharks series.

It is not to the point where the Ducks are completely out of the playoff race, but it is also not to the point where the Ducks can not lose enough games to qualify for a top-five pick. The month of December has to be a cold hard indicator of which direction this team could take.

Final Statistics

As of December 7th, the Anaheim Ducks are twenty-fifth in the league for goals for and nineteenth for goals allowed. They are fourth in the league for short-handed goals, but they come in twenty-second for successful penalty kills. The league statistics are very undecided at this point, the Ducks are pretty mid-ground when it comes to most stats.

Their offense has struggled as the twenty-eighth ranked team in shots on goal, and that is not helped by the Ducks being number one when it comes to penalty minutes per game. And when it comes to penalty minutes, Erik Gudbranson leads the league with seventy minutes already. Congratulations to him, I do not even know how that is humanly possible.

Putting Together the Anaheim Ducks Super Team of the Decade. dark. Next

It is hard to get a gage on this team through November thanks to all those statistics, everything is just an absolute mess. Most of the prospects went through a real rough patch while select veterans got forced to carry the team offensively, and yet somehow the team and the organization are not close to making a decision on tanking or competing. The goaltending was decent, the defense was okay, but they were hardly anything great enough to bother remembering. Both of them just completely died out if the games went past regulation anyway, so that does not help. The main takeaway from this month was the mess of numbers all the terrible losses and okay wins produced, so hopefully, December can make the draft pick situation more clear. Whether it is a great or horrid December, let us all cheers to getting to watch more Ducks hockey.

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