Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Anaheim Playing Undisciplined Hockey

The Anaheim Ducks are the defending Stanley Cup champions, but things have not gone so well for them this season. Currently, they have a 15-20 record (with five losses counted as regulation ties). This would give them eighth seed in the West Conference and a playoff berth, but they are only one point ahead of missing the playoffs. I have written in the past about what is wrong with Anaheim this season and there are some significant reasons. The largest are the losses of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer (who is back but has only one game played so far), the shortened summer that came from a successful playoff run and an early start to the season in England and a general Stanley Cup hangover. There is one more quantifiable reason that Anaheim is not off to a great start.

The Anaheim Ducks are playing undisciplined hockey. The Anaheim Ducks have taken a lot of undisciplined penalties. Anaheim leads the NHL in times shorthanded with 201 (second place is Detroit with 164 - the difference being more than a short handed chance per game). While Detroit has been able to get away with this since they have an 86.8% penalty kill success rate, this has hurt Anaheim significantly. Anaheim only kills 79.6% of their penalties. Unless Anaheim has a better penalty kill, they can not afford to take undisciplined penalties.

Anaheim has a reputation as a big tough team, but last year they did it without taking undisciplined penalties. Last year, Anaheim gave up 410 man advantages, which was a middle of the road 16th overall in the NHL. Anaheim can play tough without taking undisciplined penalties. They have to in order to succeed in the NHL. I blame coach Randy Carlyle for letting the Ducks play their undisciplined game which is likely a remaining part of a Stanley Cup hangover.

Anaheim has a good team that could have another Stanley Cup run, particularly if Teemu Selanne returns, but they must play a more disciplined game in order to do that.

Comments:
1) What can't be over looked is the significant turn over in personnel. Between the Penner offer sheet, Niedermayer's ill timed silly/selfish 6 month vacation to find his inner self, etc., the Ducks roster of this season is significantly changed from last
2) It still is undergoing upheaval with the recent McDonald deal. Therefore it may take time for this team to find its identity and gel like it did early on last season. Its also possible it may never do so and like the Hurricanes of last year, never play at a consistently high level only to return with more hunger next season.
 
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