Good things not showing up in the win column, YET

Posted: 12/19/2011 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

‘Yet’ is the operative word in today’s subject line. A frustrated Teemu Selanne said it best, “It seems to me that every time when we do mistakes, it’s in our own net.”  Very true and this has to do with the margin for error in the new parity driven NHL being ever so slight. That, and as Jimmy Develano told Josh Brewster on Ducks Calls, “….the NHL is a man’s league.” We have quite a few boys out there. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Sometimes though it’s the experienced guys making the boneheaded plays. Like the way Dan Ellis totally misplayed the Burmistrov and Bogosian shots Saturday night. This is why I drive the point about the margin in the NHL being ever so slight.
Hockey is a game of attrition. The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins.

The above is also why you have to look past the 2-5-1 record under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Even mainstream media is giving up on our Ducks. Following the Jets game, the OCR’s Eric Stephens opined, The hard, cold fact is the Ducks (9-18-5) are bad, managing to stay out of the league’s basement only because Columbus is bad, too.

No Ice, the results are bad but I don’t believe this is a bad team. Poorly organized yes. As Coach Boudreau said in his first impression, he was surprised at the talent on this roster. He didn’t think that given the record that this team had this much talent. Other than Teemu Selanne and very surprisingly Francois Beauchemin are the only Ducks having good seasons. Beauch, formerly known as the God of Giveaway isn’t even found among the NHL’s top 125 in the generous department. This a huge turnaround for him. Here are some other good things that aren’t showing up in the win column, yet:

Passion: Our guys aren’t as fragile as they were just three weeks ago. Down by two goals twice against Winnipeg they didn’t get stupid and initiate a parade to the sin bin and they didn’t stop skating. Against Chicago our Ducks played the NHL’s best team fairly even, until Dave Boland put them up by 3 with 2:41 to go in the second. Our guys didn’t quit and soured the celebration when they ruined Ray Emery’s shutout bid at 18:13 of the third period.
There were some technical problems in these games. Most notably the preponderance of poke-checking instead of taking the body. This could also be a function of a general lack of puck support as well. What you can’t say though is that the team quit.

Offense: The GFA under Gabby is 2.63 per game, nearly half a goal per game better than the 2.25 under Randy Carlyle. The GF/GA ratio is also slightly better since the coaching change. During the eight games since the change the 3rd & 4th lines have chipped in 6 goals and 8 assists. Selanne, Perry and Getzlaf are all registering point per game or better paces of late. Streaky Niklas Hagman has heated up. Keep all that going and get some consistent point production from Bobby Ryan and suddenly our ducks are among the offensive powerhouses in the NHL. Ryan’s numbers are off by about one-third from his previous two seasons.

Stability: Under Coach Boudreau our Ducks aren’t “doing things differently” any longer. This means the guys have a better idea of what to expect from shift to shift, period to period and game to game. Even the special team units are little changed from his regular rotation. This coach isn’t playing favorites or singling guys out for special treatment for better and for worse. When Gabby dresses down he dresses down the group or the team. He doesn’t single out one player. You can bet among his ah group counseling sessions after the previous two games included F-bomb littered references to prima donna princess poke-checkers. Because the system is now simple and traditional you can also feel fairly certain that this coach will address the puck support issue that leads to the poor decision-making.

The D: While it isn’t engraved in stone Coach has gone with the pairing of Beauchemin-Sbisa as his shut down D pairing. I need to run the stats to measure their effectiveness but I sense it as a good fit. Right now, the still very young Cam Fowler is more suited to 3rd pairing ES and PP. The moment Cam accepts the rule first man at the puck take the opposing man his game will advance by huge leaps. Additionally, it would help if rather than activating Cam when we’re down a goal or two; if Cam got the green light sooner and a winger or center hung back while Cam took the puck to the opposition net. This kid is electrifying when attacking on the rush.

Structure: Coach Boudreau’s system is very traditional and certainly far simpler than Randy Carlyle’s. The TOI is more proportional and showing up in the secondary scoring statistics. Our Ducks are also dominating the center lane and collapsing low in front of the goalies. The result is a box out defensive scheme. We’re forcing or at least attempting to punch the opposition to the perimeter and we’re taking away the east/west passing by getting sticks and bodies in those lanes. With the puck, Gabby is sending his horses straight to the net. Yes we still chip and chase. You never end that entirely. All 4 lines are attacking off the rush more often

Change is evident even if it isn’t showing up in the win column, yet.

  1. ffe155 says:

    BC couldn’t agree more about the margin of error being miniscule in today’s NHL. In this era of parity, there are no easy games.

    Take away last season’s games that were won/tied in the last minutes (Mara’s goal with 2 seconds left, Teemu’s four end of game goals in the waning minutes) and the Ducks would have finished out the playoffs vice the 4th seed in the West.

    This season those breaks are going the other the way.

    I like what I’m seeing under BB. It’s an across the board improvement over RC. Probably won’t lead to the play-offs this year, but should set the stage for next season.

    • BackCheck says:

      Not ignoring this ffe155. I’ve actually read your post 3-4 times and kept getting interrupted. Right now it’s 2:25a.m. and am pulling an all nighter getting out some work before Retired Hockey Mom and I get out of town for our Christmas Weekend.
      Let’s pick this up next week.

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