When will the veterans step up? That has been the question on everyone’s mind since the season started. 22-year-old Max Comtois opened the season for the Anaheim Ducks as their leading goal scorer in their first two games against the Vegas Golden Knights. He was also their only goal scorer, that is, until Nicolas Deslauriers potted their next two goals.
While the goals from Max and Des were crucial to the start of the season, the players who truly needed to step up and lead the Anaheim Ducks, were nowhere to be found. Where was the leading goal scorer for the 2019-20 season, Adam Henrique? What was Rickard Rakell‘s big disconnect? Was Jakob Silfverberg actually living up to his nickname, lazyboy?
In an act of desperation, Dallas Eakins took the tough love approach with his veteran stars. Fed up with their performance, he finally had enough and benched his highest-paid players during their 3-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild. Needless to say, it really struck a nerve. But, was it the wakeup call that would finally get the ball rolling?
With the Colorado Avalanche in town, it was imperative that the veterans figure things out and take the lead. As one of the better teams in the Divison, it wasn’t going to be an easy feat to pull of a win, and the Anaheim Ducks couldn’t do it without their leaders.
Despite their 3-2 overtime loss in their first game against the Avs, this was a pivotal game for the Ducks, as they had played some of their best hockey of the year. It was the confidence boost they needed going into Game 6 of the season. The veterans had finally started to find their footing, with notable vets like Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, and Jakob Silfverberg breaking their scoring drought. Dallas Eakins had lit a fire under the vets, and it seemed to do the trick, especially in last night’s win.
Victory Tastes Sweder in Anaheim
It only took 58 seconds for the Anaheim Ducks to score their first goal. Squaring off against J.T. Compher in the faceoff circle, Adam Henrique won the draw. Jakob Silfverberg had impeccable timing, and with the puck still bouncing, whipped a snapshot over the right glove of Philipp Grubauer. The look of relief on Silf’s face after he scored the goal was absolutely priceless.
The goal that we were all waiting for, however, was the one scored by Rickard Rakell. Ever since his 69 point season in 2017-18, fans have been waiting and hoping that we would someday see that side of Rakell again. Going goalless in five games left us feeling rather disappointed in the once highly touted player.
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Nevertheless, we saw a small glimpse of the old Rick Rak when he scored the Anaheim Ducks’ second goal of the evening. And who better to snag the primary assist on his goal than Captain Ryan Getzlaf?
Exercising perfect patience, with the addition of poor defensive coverage by the Avs, paid off for Getzy as Rakell cut to the front of the net and rocketed a wrist shot glove side, scoring the game-winning goal.
Things took an odd turn for the Ducks in the third period, as they did not register a single SOG until Hampus Lindholm scored an empty netter. While it wasn’t necessarily needed, it was a good insurance policy for Anaheim, and their first time scoring three goals this season.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
With a lot of help from John Gibson, who posted a save percentage of .970%, and a little help from the post, the Anaheim Ducks were able to stay in the game. However, the team learned a very important lesson in their win against Colorado. The early bird gets the worm (er… win?).
While not every team that scores the first goal of the game is going to win, when you find your momentum early, it propels you forward with confidence and takes off a little bit of pressure.
“That first goal is so important. For a team like us, that’s at the bottom of the league for scoring goals, to get one early, there’s that relief that we can score. Getting the lead got us some confidence and let us breathe a little easier.” –Dallas Eakins
Now that the pressure of scoring has been eliminated, hopefully we will see the veteran’s names featured on the score sheet on a more consistent basis. When key cogs in the system are finally starting to work, it’s amazing what can happen.
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