Little has gone right for the 2007 Stanley Cup champs, who have struggled offensively, allowed opponents too many scoring chances and given them too many power-play chances. Even their one victory, a 4-0 win over San Jose on Friday, didn't come easily -- the Sharks carried the play for most of the night and outshot Anaheim 38-20, but were foiled by Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who played his best game of the season.
"I think it speaks for itself," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said of the team's slow start. "We are not happy. The first few games in the year we really didn't play well. The last maybe three we've scrambled back and started to work harder. It doesn't always turn right away. Offensively, we're not running smoothly."
That's an understatement.
Anaheim's leading goal-scorers are defenseman Francois Beauchemin and checker Rob Niedermayer, both with 2. Niedermayer and linemate Travis Moen are tops in points with 4. The top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz has produced only two assists, while Teemu Selanne has 1 point (a goal) in six games.
The 1-5-0 start for the Ducks equals their worst since compiling a 1-4-1 mark to start the 2003-04 season. Anaheim hopes to turn it around on the trip to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
"A change of scenery will maybe do us good," Niedermayer said. "We're in a tough spot right now and not happy with the way things have gone up until now. We have to think positively and work harder than we have."
Stars struggle -- The Dallas Stars have never finished worse than sixth in goals-against under Dave Tippett. That could change this season unless the Stars tighten things up. They had allowed a League-worst 4.6 goals per game through five games before Monday's 2-1 victory against the Rangers.
"Losing is losing, but losing when you're giving up five a night, that's really losing," Tippett said. "It goes against just about everything we believe."
It's not that the Stars were giving up a lot of shots -- opponents were averaging less than 25 per game, the fourth-fewest in the NHL. But the number of quality shots Marty Turco faced in that span was unusually high.
"There's just too many mistakes, too many 2-on-1s," defenseman Stephane Robidas said.
Turco took a 4.71 goals-against average and .814 save percentage with him when the Stars headed East for three games in the New York Metropolitan area against the Rangers, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. His one-goal performance against the Rangers marked the first time this season he had allowed fewer than three goals.
"I just need to do whatever it takes to stop the puck," Turco said prior to the trip. "We just need to get the job done. We're all in this thing together and my job on the surface seems a little more instantaneously valuable. We've been down that road before. The best way I can be a leader for this team is to build a wall for them and give them confidence, whether they need it or not. That's pretty much all I have to do."
Tippett knows that as Turco goes, so go the Stars.
"Turco needs to find a way to elevate his game," he said. "He's a big part of who we are, a big part of our identity. We need him to play well. We need to help him in every way to be successful, just like he needs to help his teammates be successful."
The one-goal performance against the Rangers may be just what Turco and his teammates needed
Tough way to start -- Mikael Tellqvist has been a spectator in each of the Phoenix Coyotes' first 5 games while Ilya Bryzgalov played. That's expected to change Thursday, when he's slated to make his first appearance of the season.
But while some teams save their backup netminders for "easier" teams, the Coyotes are throwing Tellqvist into the fire -- the opposition will be the Washington Capitals, led by Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin and early-season scoring leader Alexander Semin. The Caps are off to a 3-1-1 start and have scored at least three goals in every game.
Tellqvist is just happy to get the chance to play.
"I've been waiting for a while," said Tellqvist, who had a 9-8-2 record with a .908 save percentage last season. "It's been a while since I have played a game, but I'm anxious to get the season going for myself, contribute to the team, play solid and help the team win a game."
The last time Ovechkin played at Jobing.com Arena, the Russian superstar scored his most famous goal, swatting the puck into the net while sliding after being knocked down. He has just two goals so far this season after getting 65 in 2007-08.
"I don't think there is one way you can prepare for him," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We are going to try and do a few things with one of them being matchups."
Defenseman Kurt Sauer is expected to get a lot of the responsibility for shutting down Ovechkin.
"We are going to have to try and keep him to the outside as best we can," Sauer said. "As a (defenseman), you are just trying to take away time and space. When Ovechkin comes across the blue line, he can score from anywhere, so we have to be on him and just try to frustrate him a little bit."
It's the first of a four-game homestand -- one that Gretzky was glad to see after losses at Chicago, Ottawa and Montreal.
"We need to go back home," Gretzky said after the 4-1 loss in Montreal Saturday. "We had four games on the road. Listen, would we like to be 3-2 and .500 on this trip? Absolutely. We're not, but you learn from it. And as I said to the players after Sunday's win in Anaheim, you don't get too high when you win and don't get too low when you lose."
Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report