Follow me on Twitter: @BenShelley_20
Follow HockeyBuzz Ducks on Twitter: @HB_Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks’ brief two-game winning streak was snapped yesterday, following a 7-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.
Ahead of the recap/analysis, on a more serious note, Ducks forward Justin Kirkland was involved in a car crash on the way to last night’s game against Boston, the Ducks announced today. He was transported to receive care, has full mobility and is expected to be released soon. Glad to hear he seems to be recovering well from a scary situation.
As for last night, it marked Hampus Lindholm’s first game back to Anaheim, following last year’s trade with the Boston Bruins. Dealing Lindholm absolutely made sense based on his age and the Ducks' position, and they also got back a really strong return, but it's a reminder that he's certainly the kind player that could really help the Ducks right now.
Kevin Shattenkirk returned to Anaheim’s lineup after missing a game (with the Ducks using seven defensemen), while John Gibson got the start.
The Ducks found themselves down early, as David Pastrnak beat John Gibson through a screen to open the scoring about four minutes into the game. It did look like the Ducks may have tied it midway through the period, as the net was dislodged and the puck was poked in afterwards, but it was quickly called off as no-goal. Then just afterwards, David Pastrnak was able to just get a pass out to David Krejci with nobody covering him, and Krejci quickly made it a 2-0 game.
Anaheim did get back into the game with only about three minutes to go in the frame though, as Frank Vatrano found Ryan Strome, who teed up a shot for Trevor Zegras to beat Jeremy Swayman, cutting the lead to one. A scrum ensued afterwards (revolving around Zegras and Trent Frederic), resulting in a couple offsetting penalties and the Ducks did have a power play opportunity late in the frame, but couldn’t convert.
On a power play midway through the second frame though, Pastrnak took a pass in-close and beat Gibson five-hole to extend the lead. Then only 17 seconds later, Pastrnak ended up in alone on a breakaway, making a nice move to complete his hat trick and increasing the lead to 4-1, which basically put the game out of reach only halfway through the second period.
Boston ended up building to their lead in the first half of the third period, with Brad Marchand missing a chance on a 2-on-1, but just taking the puck back and tucking into the open net, as multiple players from the Ducks were present, but didn’t really have much motivation to try to stop him. The Bruins never took their foot off the gas, as Hampus Lindholm scored later off a bad angle shot to put a puck off Gibson’s mask and in, before Charlie Coyle buried another one late, leading to a 7-1 Bruins win.
After a stretch of good results, with a 3-2-0 record after the holiday break coming into the game, the Ducks hit a wall last night. It’s not like their play was overly different from what we’ve frequently seen, but the Bruins are a good enough team to make the Ducks’ issues a lot more apparent.
It’s troubling how much time and space opposing players are often given around Anaheim’s net. While giving up odd-man rushes is an issue on its own, even when Ducks’ defenders are in position around their own net, so often they look completely lost as to what they should be doing.
Anaheim really doesn’t have a single truly strong defender who can consistently be trusted in their own end. Cam Fowler is fine defensively but is tasked with too large of a role (while the same could probably be said for Dmitry Kulikov), and though Simon Benoit is developing into a strong defender, Kevin Shattenkirk doesn’t add a ton and John Klingberg often just outright doesn’t defend. That said, they typically don't get a ton of help from the forwards either.
Offensively, the Ducks actually did have some really good chances last night, and could’ve had more than a single goal. What they often lacked though was a lot of sustained pressure and offensive zone time.
The Ducks are back in action against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM JANUARY
Ducks fall to Flyers as long homestand continues
John Gibson earns shutout as Ducks pull off win over Stars
Mason McTavish records four points as Ducks rally to beat Sharks in OT