Since the beginning of the 2018 season, the Anaheim Ducks have been battling a massive amount of injuries. Constantly having to call up rookies and bring in depth players just to have a starting roster, the Ducks have been dealt a tough hand regarding health. Because of this, for the longest time it seems as if the “injuries” excuse has been able to deflect any kind of negativity surrounding the Ducks and their performances.
It can be very difficult to play with consistent success when your roster is constantly not what it should be. So far this season, 44 different players have suited up for the Ducks and their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 2 was the first time in 52 contests that they didn’t have a rookie in the lineup.
The Ducks proved in their game against the Jets that the team is just simply not up to par with the other playoff teams of the league. But this time, there was no injury excuse to hide behind.
After the first period the Ducks had allowed a horrendous six goals on just 14 shots. Gibson was taken out of the game after the fourth Jets goal but at that point the damage was done. A howling chant of Gibson’s name echoed through the arena which was ironic considering Gibson is probably the only positive the Ducks have going for them at the moment.
The game continued on to finish with the Jets falling one goal short of reaching the rare double-digit plateau with a final score of 9-3. An optimist would say that it was just rust. After all, that was the first game the Ducks had played following the All-Star break and the Jets had already played three games.
However, rust and rust alone does not cause nine goals to be scored. Allowing nine goals, including six in a single period, should never happen in a hockey game no matter how “rusty” one team is.
The difference in this loss to other Ducks losses this season is that the roster they played with is their healthy roster. With the return of Corey Perry, Jakob Silfverberg, and Patrick Eaves, the only injuries the Ducks had to make up for were Ondrej Kase and Ryan Miller. Kase is a key loss for the Ducks so it is understandable if their offense were to stumble a little bit temporarily.
However, that’s just one player and the absence of one starting player does not allow the other team to have a shot at nine goals. In addition, Miller is the backup goaltender so his direct impact on the team’s performance is extremely limited as it is.
Coming out of a break or not, the fact that this healthy Ducks roster just lost by six goals should cause some soul searching to be done both in the locker room and in the front office. This team is on the back nine of success and that is no secret. Running out of time, the Ducks last chance was probably in 2017 and even then, there were a few teams out there far more talented than them.
Looking ahead to the rest of this 2019 season, the Ducks are going to have to realize that they aren’t the same team that they used to be. It is going to take some time to get back to where they were in the golden years of 2013, 2014, and 2015. This roster as it is isn’t going to cut it. Looking at the standings, although the Ducks aren’t out of it, there is no way they can keep their playoff hopes alive by playing like this.
The injury filled days of Ducks hockey have hopefully come to an end for an extended period of time. With a healthy roster, it will be easier to assess where the Ducks really need improving. Judging from this game, the Ducks have a lot of work to do if they want to even be considered a playoff team.
Sooner or later Anaheim is going to have to realize the reality that the Ducks just simply aren’t a solid team. There is talent, speed, physicality, and star power lacking. They are not an outright bad team as the Ducks show moments of brilliance at times but at the end of the day, this team may want to be looking at the draft more so than the playoffs.