The score of the Anaheim Ducks game early into the second period painted a much different story than what was actually going on at Ball Arena last night. Just 25 minutes into the game, the Ducks held a 2-0 lead; somehow keeping the Colorado Avalanche off the score sheet.
But, in typical Ducks fashion, they boarded the bus headed straight for struggle street. Sitting on their lead, once again, at the end of the second period, Colorado scored back-to-back goals. It was the same story we’ve already heard this season, just a different night.
Neither the Ducks nor the Avs were able to capitalize on their chances in the final 20 minutes of the game, sending them into 3v3 overtime. Anaheim had a few decent chances in the extra period, keeping tempo with Colorado.
In the end, it was Valeri Nichushkin whose game-winning goal lit the lamp for our Mile High city adversaries. After spending most of the evening carving the Ducks up like a Thanksgiving Day bird, Nichushkin’s overtime goal was filthy, worthy of the highlight reels.
Even as a fan of the losing team, you can’t help but drool at Nichushkin’s GWG. It’s the kind of goal you’d like to see a kid like Max Jones pull off. Nevertheless, in the end, this was the goal that extended the Anaheim Ducks losing streak to nine games. It’s been almost a month since they’ve pulled together a win.
The Anaheim Ducks Need to Start Walking the Walk
It was great to see Josh Manson back in the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche, but even the addition of one of their Top 4 defenseman wasn’t enough to pull off a win. In a post-game interview, Manson mentioned that his team really needed to find the 1/2 stride between winning and losing these games. Playing a full 60 minutes needed to be their end goal.
While it is great knowing that the Anaheim Ducks recognize this, this is the same rigmarole the rest of the team gives in their post-game interviews. Yet, we never see execution out on the ice. There is a big difference between saying your team needs to play a full 60 minutes and actually going out there on the ice and doing it.
Last night was a prime example. At home, against St. Louis, they lost their final contest against the Blues, 3-2. Jani Hakanpaa, in his post-game interview, said that the team just needed to work hard. While, in theory, that would work to win the Ducks a game or two, it doesn’t make a difference if you give up halfway through the game.
Against Colorado, the Ducks iced 7 defensemen but still couldn’t play adequate defense. Dallas Eakins scratched a player like Danton Heinen who, although may not have had the best game against St. Louis, has proven he can make a difference out on the ice. In Heinen’s place, who else other than Derek Grant? A player who has been notoriously bad this season.
A two-goal lead, and the team just simply gave up. Whether it was exhaustion or the discouragement that comes with losing eight games in a row, the Anaheim Ducks seem content sitting on a lead and defending it with little effort or care.
"“We have got to get out of that mentality of “we played well” if we lose, because winning teams play well, losing teams don’t. I think that’s just the way it is.” –Josh Manson"
Despite those being hard words to hear, I hope the perspective Manson gained during his downtime from being injured really resonates with his teammates. It’s time for them to put their words into action. If they don’t, something has got to give.
A Coaching Change Might be in the Air
There is not one team on the planet that enjoys losing. Nevertheless, you can’t win every time. But, when a losing streak seems to have no end in sight, you begin to wonder, what needs to change?
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Over the last few weeks, fans have begun to voice their disdain towards Head Coach Dallas Eakins, expressing their desire to see a new face behind the Anaheim Ducks bench. In the wake of the Calgary Flames firing Geoff Ward, and naming Darryl Sutter as his successor, it seems as though Eakins’ seat keeps getting hotter and hotter.
Just hours after the news broke, rumors began to surface that Bob Murray offered Sutter the job prior to him being hired by Calgary. We do not know how much weight those rumors carry, but if something doesn’t change, Eakins’ leash with Murray has to be getting shorter and shorter.
During the game, our staff had a discussion regarding the Eakins/Sutter narrative. We are all in agreement that it is time for a change of the guard. There are many reasons the Anaheim Ducks need to seriously consider a coaching change.
There has been no direction, hardly any growth, and no solid leadership under the Dallas Eakins regime. Ben Thomasian brought up an excellent point in our group chat, and this is the biggest strike against Eakins since he took over as the Anaheim Ducks bench boss.
"“A coach is a teacher. They build a strategy (although, realistically, most NHL teams play the same) and have the team implement it. They teach a player and lead them to improve. I don’t see any of Eakins kids really improving, nor do I see his team implementing a clear strategy. Randy Carlyle as a comparison, might not have had the best strategies and a demeanor that modern players didn’t buy into, but certain players clearly improved under his stewardship and you always knew what his teams were trying to do.”"
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