Anaheim Ducks: Superb goaltending, timely scoring has led to quick start
The Anaheim Ducks have won four of their first five games for the first time since the 2014-15 season, matching their best start to a season in franchise history.
The Anaheim Ducks have gotten out of the gates quickly this season, refreshed by an uptempo, free-flowing system that has been preached by new head coach Dallas Eakins. With fresh, young talent in the lineup and an appetite to return to the playoffs, it was important for the Ducks to get off to a nice start. It should only boost their confidence moving forward.
While the Ducks have won, it is more important to see how they are winning their games.
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First and foremost, the goaltending has been outstanding as it always is. The Anaheim Ducks have only allowed one goal in four (all wins) of their first five games and only allowed two in their only loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The club is only allowing 1.2/game, best in the NHL.
Starting goaltender John Gibson has been impressive, stopping 124 of 129 shots, good for a 96.1% save percentage. His backup, Ryan Miller, has been outstanding in limited action. Miller saved 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 regulation win on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets, including stopping a 4 on 1 Blue Jackets’ rush by poke checking the puck off defensemen Seth Jones‘ stick.
It’s a very small sample size, but the Ducks goaltending is a big reason for its early-season success. It has locked the opposition down.
Scoring at the right time
On the opposite end, the Anaheim Ducks have only scored 11 goals in those 5 games, which is 2.2 goals per game. However, their scoring has been very timely as the Ducks have fought back and become a sort of quick-strike offense.
In the second game of the season against the Sharks, Ryan Getzlaf responded to Logan Couture’s game-tying goal with one of his own. In the fourth game of the season and tied 1-1 in the third, the Ducks scored two goals against then Red Wings less than a minute apart to seal their 3-1 victory. This was followed by two goals in less than two minutes against the Columbus Blue Jackets, enough for a 2-1 victory.
They have just enough to get by. Per Hockeyreference.com, the Ducks’ shooting percentage is currently at 7.5%, whereas the league average is 10.0%. Surely, there is some improvement that is can be made here.
Their lack of goal scoring is a concern as the Ducks seem to have had trouble finding their offense consistently for the longest time. Should the goaltending and defense in the front of them falter, its key that the Ducks find the back of the net more often. As they face more teams with greater firepower like the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks will need to find their offense.
The young guys, especially Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Maxime Comtois among others, need to start getting on the score sheet with more regularity to supplement the veterans on the club.
Tight, low scoring games have defined the Ducks season so far. However, there will be higher scoring affairs in the near future as this is the NHL. You can bank on that. Hopefully, the Ducks will have found their offense by then as we know they have found their defense.
When the game ventures away from low scoring affairs, the Ducks will need to know how to win in a different way than they have done so far this season.
Will the Anaheim Ducks’ hot start continue? Only time will tell.