Wings won because of their foot speed and ability to get to the loose pucks. They got to the loose pucks, took control and won. We had plenty of opportunities to put them away and we just didn’t finish.

Yes we missed Toni Lydman but one guy isn’t the reason you lose a series. We lost because we didn’t put them away sooner. The longer the series went their confidence went up and we seemed frozen in time and space. We had no response. Detroit elevated their game and we didn’t. As a team we didn’t have it to elevate.

One look at the plus/minus screams foot speed on the blue line is a serous issue. Beauchemin, Souray and Sbisa our 3 weakest skaters were each minus-2 on the series. Our better skaters, Fowler (3), Lovejoy (4), Allen (1) and Lydman (1) were each on the plus side.

I really don’t want to wade deep into the weeds but essentially the Wings won because we couldn’t skate with them. Everything else, their puck possession, passing and positioning, came off their skating and ability to win faceoffs and be first on those precious loose pucks.

One of the things I didn’t notice until Game 7 was how Detroit was beating us in the low slot.  They were getting two guys down low. One guy positioned on the top of the crease to screen Hiller. A second was roaming 3-6 feet out and picking up those loose pucks and rebounds.

Many unknowingly and incorrectly blame Hiller for those rebounds but that is not how hockey is taught or played at elite levels. The goalie is responsible for making the first save. It’s the job of the skaters to either get on the rebound or tie up the opposition so that they don’t get second and third shots. The only bad goal in tonight’s game was Filppula’s.

One thing our Ducks gave us this year is hope. For the first time since the Pronger trade and the retirement of Scot Niedermayer our Ducks appear to be getting better instead of worse.

The immediate future looks very bright. Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri are obviously keepers. Pending UFA’s Ben Lovejoy and Dave Steckel will probably be resigned. Steckel could join Winnick and Cogliano on the checking line. Nick Bonino won himself a center spot this season. Rickard Rakell and Peter Holland will compete for the other spot.

Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan can be expected to bounce back from off years and poor playoff performances.

There are only three, maybe four roster changes I see going into next season.

Luca Sbisa will be challenged to keep his spot by Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. Luca has four of the five skills necessary to play the game at the NHL level. His ability to read, pickup or see a play developing and properly react to it is questionable.

Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu represent difficult decisions because both could be tempted to return for the Olympics. Though it isn’t at all certain that either could win and hold their Ducks job against the up and coming kids next season. I’d much rather see each of them move on their own terms rather than be pushed out.

Sheldon Souray’s lack of foot speed became exposed as the season wore on and certainly in the playoffs. He could be, actually should be, bought out. He’s another guy who I have too much respect for to watch get pushed aside. Watching Rob Niedermayer get the hook and be told he couldn’t play anymore was sad. It’s understandable that some guys just won’t come off the ice until you shoot ’em and drag ’em off. I just think it’s sad to pull the trigger.

So I’d much rather see Teemu, Saku and Sheldon leave now before younger guys push them out.

Ducks next job is cleaning out their lockers and exit interviews. It was a tough year for a few players. There will no doubt be some retirements and maybe a buyout over the summer. Our next task is preparing for the draft where our Ducks will 22nd overall. Definitely not high enough to snag a player likely to help immediately.

One goal and just that quick our Ducks move from the hockey season to the financial season. Our attention turns from the ice to the front office.

For me, I’ll share with you on this thread before taking some time off.

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Comments
  1. czhokej says:

    I agree with your analysis, bc. What about coaching? Strategy?

    • bc says:

      The Twitter-verse was full of “Fire the Coach” tweets last night. OCR’s Eric Stephens jumped on the bandwagon with a blog about coaching reputations are made in the playoffs.

      We didn’t lose that series because of coaching. We lost because we failed to execute.

      In a couple of instances we were flat out unable to execute and compete. The ability just wasn’t there. Corey Perry’s untimely goal scoring slump wasn’t because he didn’t want to score badly enough. Corey Perry didn’t score because Jimmy Howard, Nick Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson stoned him.

      Should Coach have not done something and done something else instead? We can play that game forever but we’ll never know because it didn’t happen.

      In 2004-05 the NHL changed for what will probably be forever. The trend is for the game to continue to open up. Flash and dash, dipsy-doodle hockey is the official policy of the NHL. This means teams like our Ducks, the Kings, the Blues will have to overcome biased, one-sided officiating to be successful. The Kings have done it by diving. I suspect we’ll find another way. Guys like Getzlaf and Perry are far too honest to resort to cheap theatrics.

      It was a great season and hugely disappointing playoff. I’m sorry for my part in raising hopes beyond the reality of our first round elimination. I really did and still do think our Ducks finally turned a corner this year. Ironic, just got a note that someone else is writing about how it was a successful season and difficult to have it end this way.

      The trade Bobby Ryan chatter has started already. This time it springs from imagination of Vancouver-Sun Province writer Jason Botchford. Ryan for Edler he says. Do that and we better coax another 20+ goal season from Teemu Selanne.

  2. yougetoutwhatyouputin says:

    Agreed…we are way to slow…

    Ducks post game…BB was asked, can you explain why so many slow starts? BB response, I cannot comprehend to answer that question… if I had the answers I would have addressed it a month ago…we talked about…we had a team psychologist talk to the players… we challenged them about self motivation from the start…we seemed to only work when we were in the hole.

    WOW…what is going on…team psychologist…lack of self motivation…How does this happen? How does this get fixed?

    • bc says:

      All NHL teams have a psychologist on retainer. This isn’t anything new or unique to our Ducks. Very strangely I met the Sharks head doctor at a family function a few years ago. Who knew? He wouldn’t spill any beans. Not even generally.
      Every team develops some habits, traits. A group personality if you will. During the season we were the comeback or cardiac kids. In the playoff the Wings, who won 3 times in OT took that handle.
      Was it because certain players weren’t motivated or didn’t want it badly enough? Call me a skeptic but U are welcome to develop that thread.

      • yougetoutwhatyouputin says:

        I am not going their…this is our team and we need to fix this…we cannot fire BB…somehow someway we need to change habits or traits that have baffled the coach…this early exit is painful for such a talented group. However, our depth players did shine.

  3. bbdux93 says:

    We have a coach who has motivated this team beyond the early predictions – Fire him ? ? ? That’s just crazy.
    When you look back to the early part of this season we were “winning ugly” and everyone had to know at some point that would end and what we couldn’t do would be exposed.
    Not being anything more than a passionate fan – no hockey experience of any kind – I think our youth both helped and hurt us. Our defense was not up to the task and that showed in the play-offs.
    Given another year for the “kids” to mature and with an improved D I think this team can be a contender again.
    As to Teemu – I want him to retire. Surely the Ducks will make a place for him as a coach – or ???
    Saku, how often did we read how valuable he was to his line mates and others in the room. Should he stay another year ? ? ? probably not.
    Sheldon – I’ve no idea what’s best there, but and bc will likely disagree with this – I think he’s better than Allen.

    • bc says:

      There remains a lot to like about Sheldon Souray and his game bb. He has great reach and a good stick. He brings much needed snarl. He still has the shot. Did you notice that pests like Cleary and Abdelkader would take cheap shots at Allen that they never did with Souray? The problem with Sheldon is that the legs are gone.
      In a few days we’ll learn about the injuries guys played through. Souray did play with his hand wrapped but that doesn’t affect his legs.

  4. czhokej says:

    I still think that BB is a good coach. I still like him. However, I do not think that dump-and-chase was a good strategy against the Wings. Or maybe it was not executed well. In 2007 putting the puck deep worked really well for Carlyle (until it became too foreseeable). But back then, we followed and recovered most of the puck with speed (Andy, Teemu and Kunitz), or with a physical force and grinding (Getzlaf’s and Pahlsson’s lines). What was surprising yesterday, that we could not hold on the puck, we could not pass, we were losing battles, we were not getting in time to loose pucks. Even our top line, which definitely has superior puck handling skills, could not carry the puck, and passing it was also a problem for them. We also have to give credit to Mike B. and his strategy.
    I have one additional theory: Teams that perform well during the regular season due to their hard work (tempo, hassle, scramble) and physical style of game, usually don’t do well in the playoffs.
    My hypothesis is that these players enter the playoffs physically exhausted, possibly with some chronic injuries. Certainly neither Bobby or Corey looked 100%. The whole Ducks team appeared to be slower as the series progressed. Chasing the puck is much more energy demanding, and we did a lot of it against the Wings.

    • bc says:

      Among the things the Wings did cz was they controlled the blue lines. I was hoping we could force them into dumping the puck in, which they hate to do. The Wings had absolutely no problem entering our zone even when we had 3-4 guys positioned along the blue line.

      As to our puck handling issues the Wings were on us, weren’t they? Even when we had puck support and worked the share, they got on the support guy immediately. In those last two games we just didn’t seem to be able to be the aggressor and maintain the aggressive posture. Last night I don’t think we put 3 dominate shifts together back2back2back.

      Do you think moving Steckel to the checking line will help? He’s certainly more physical than Saku and we don’t lose anything in the face off circle but…he’s slow and has to cheat a bit position wise. And he does compensate a bit by skating instead of gliding out there. Much in the way the Captain did this season.

      Do we groom someone else to take face offs for Getz? Perry maybe? Can we help Getz improve somehow? Maybe getting some speed on that line to get on the puck? I wonder if advance stats will tell us if Getz’ face wins improve when Palmieri is on his wing.

      Then again, had we won just more in OT would we be having a very different conversation?

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