Ducks Radio Analyst
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Having scored a total of just one goal in the past two games, losses at Nashville and Columbus, and ranking 29th in the 30-team NHL with an average of 1.91 goals per game, the Ducks understandably were thinking Monday about increasing their production.
Much of the team’s practice session in Columbus before an afternoon flight to Washington focused on offense.
In preparation for a Tuesday night date with the powerful Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle and his staff found a few points of emphasis while reviewing Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Predators and Sunday’s 3-1 setback to the Blue Jackets.
“The first one is net presence,” Carlyle said. “We’re being too selective on when to shoot. We’re looking for something beyond what’s there. We’re getting a lot of shots blocked and a lot of shots are missing the net.”
After generating 31 shots on goal in Tuesday’s 3-2, shootout loss at Chicago, the Ducks had just 16 Thursday in a 3-2 victory at Minnesota and 20 apiece in Nashville and Columbus.
The Blue Jackets blocked nearly as many shots, 18, as they surrendered.
“We did try to shoot the puck, but we’re not sharp in getting it through,” Carlyle said. “Maybe we should have had 50 or 60 (attempts), versus the (nearly) 40 that we had. That way, we’d be getting 35 or 40 shots a game. Ideally, we’d like to get somewhere around that.
“Right now, the offense has dried up for our hockey club.”
With Corey Perry
, Ryan Getzlaf
and Bobby Ryan
owning four goals apiece, and Teemu Selanne
three, the Ducks’ top offensive guns have been reasonably productive. Otherwise, though, the club has only six other goals, with no one else scoring more than one.
Ten Washington players, by contrast, have multiple goals, and the Capitals lead the NHL with an average of 3.78 goals per game.
The Ducks have also struggled on the power play, being shut out on their only four chances the past two games, and ranking tied for 21st in the NHL with a 13.3 percent success rate. A season ago, the Ducks boasted the league’s third-most productive man-advantage unit, converting 23.5 percent of their opportunities.
“We had some very good chances (Sunday), but we didn’t find a way to get it across the line,” Carlyle said. “Does that come back to net presence? Are we establishing the shot enough? Are we recovering the puck off of missed opportunities? Are we good on faceoffs? All those things play into it. So, collectively we’re looking at improving in all those areas.”
The Ducks tweaked their roster Monday, recalling center Nick Bonino
from American League affiliate Syracuse and assigning left wing J.F. Jacques to the Crunch. Bonino, who had just one goal and one assist in 35 games with the Ducks over the past two seasons, led Syracuse with 11 points, including two goals, in nine games.
Carlyle also shuffled the lines during practice, reuniting Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry on the top grouping, while shifting erstwhile third-line center Andrew Cogliano
to left wing on the second line with Selanne and center Saku Koivu
Maxime Macenauer took Cogliano’s usual spot, skating between Andrew Gordon and Devante Smith-Pelly
on an all-rookie unit, while Brandon McMillan
centered Matt Beleskey
and George Parros
The 6-foot, 211-pound Smith-Pelly, 19, has one assist and a minus-4 mark in nine games. If he makes another appearance with the Ducks, as opposed to being returned to his junior team, Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League, the first year of Smith-Pelly’s three-year, entry-level contract will be activated.
“I still think he’s feeling his way,” Carlyle said. “The game (in the NHL) is so much quicker. You have to decipher what’s happening and read at a quicker pace, not only with the size of the people but the pace of the game. I think those are areas in which he would admittedly like to improve.
“We still like his size. We like that he’s responsible defensively, along the wall. He does get a little puck-watching when the puck’s down low. His (opposing) defensemen have had a little bit too much freedom up top in his area. We’ve tried to correct that. The biggest asset he brings is his size and his ability to play physical.”