It was a recipe for disaster. Their second game in as many nights, facing a much better opponent than the first – on the road, no less – and the Ducks the followed the recipe.
The Sharks broke out to a 5-0 lead that no amount of fights could curtail (there were six, for the record) and no third-period bounce-back could overcome. The shots on goal count was just as lopsided – 38-11 through two periods, and 41-24 the game.
All of which led Randy Carlyle to say, “we didn’t really seem to get involved in the game.
“From our standpoint, you can’t come into this building and expect them not to be coming out and jumping at you,” the coach continued. “I mean we did play last night. This is the second half of a back-to-back. But we got ourselves out of position and got into lots of trouble.”
The trouble began quickly, when Dany Heatley beat Curtis McElhinney 36 seconds into the game – the result of a Joe Thornton faceoff win against Ryan Getzlaf, and a long rebound off McElhinney’s pads that Thornton shuffled to his wide-open line mate in front of the net.
Logan Couture added a power-play goal before the period was over, and Heatley, Niclas Wallin and Patrick Marleau completed the Sharks’ scoring in the second.
Power-play goals by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the third period, other than earning fans free pizza coupons, were a moot point.
The Ducks (4-7-1) handed the Sharks (5-3-1) a total of 9 minutes of power-play time, including 1:13 of 5-on-3 time that San Jose could not convert.
Carlyle, who juggled the forwards lines significantly, seemed short on answers – which will only further fuel speculation about his job security.
“It was scrambling hockey,” he said. “We were running around trying to do too many things. We were puck chasing. We didn’t have our positional play. I don’t know if we were over aggressive from the standpoint of defending. It was one of those games where we didn’t look like we had much structure to it.”
Defenseman Cam Fowler missed his sixth straight game following a broken nose.
I think it might be time for the Ducks to start thinking “rebuild”. They have some decent older (30+) players that they can ship out for prospects and draft picks. Finishing in the bottom five for the next few years will get them a top 5 pick in the draft, plus the picks that they can get from trading away guys like Visnovsky, Blake, Brookbank, and Koivu. They can even shop Selanne at the trade deadline as a rental to playoff hopefuls in exchange for a solid prospect and a 1st round pick. The Kings did it when they hired Dean Lombardi as the GM after the lockout in 2005, and now TSN considers them to be the 5th best team in the NHL, and they currently sit on top of the league standings.
The Ducks could be the next up and coming rebuild team. Getting 2-3 first round draft picks in the next 4 years, plus all the promising prospects that they’ll get in exchange for their veterans will make the Ducks a viable playoff contender again sometime around 2016. Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, and Hiller will all be in their prime, and they’ll have a young and talented team. First it was the Penguins, then the Blackhawks, now the Kings, next the Oilers, then the Maple Leafs, then finally maybe the Ducks. Sure, they’ll suck terribly for the next 5-6 years, but it looks like they’re headed in that direction already.
Who knows, if they fire the GM and coaching staff, dump all their veterans, hire an intelligent ex-player as the GM (e.g. like Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay), hire a defensive minded coach that doesn’t encourage dirty play (adios Randy Carlyle), draft well, and put together a decent team, I might consider buying season tickets again.