AnaheimDucks.com The return of Mathieu Schneider to the Ducks lineup last Thursday against Columbus appeared to pay immediate dividends for the Ducks. The 38-year-old Schneider, who missed the first 13 games of the season with a broken bone in his ankle, played 25 minutes, 25 seconds in the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. To top it off, he scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Ducks a rare home victory in the tiebreaker format.
But it wasn’t until Saturday night’s 5-2 victory over Phoenix that Schneider had a noticeable impact on a previously lifeless Anaheim power play. The Ducks were 28th in the NHL on the man advantage entering the game (9.8 percent), and were 0 for their last 21 on the man advantage. That string was broken when Schneider connected on a slap shot with the Ducks on a 5 on 3 midway through the first period. Video Schneider also helped Anaheim score a second power play goal, again with a two-man advantage, giving the Ducks much-needed insurance 13:19 into the third. Schneider’s ripped one-timer from the point bounced hard off Phoenix goaltender Alex Auld, leaving Ryan Getzlaf with a wide-open net. Video "The power play hasn't clicked at all this year," said Perry, who alone had nine shots with the Ducks on the man advantage. "To get a huge power-play goal at the start of the game and to have the lead early and play with a lead, that was a big confidence boost. The guys feel a little pressure coming off us."
The Ducks took 18 of their 38 shots on the power play, a trend that is likely to continue with the presence of Schneider on point of the first unit.
“With his experience the last few years in Detroit, they had a tremendous power play,” said Ducks captain Chris Pronger. “With his great shot and his vision and ability to move the puck, it certainly makes it a lot more potent. It also gives us three or four defenseman we can throw in and not get beaten. That’s a nice luxury to have and something we missed when he was out.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle pointed out that Schneider’s potency on the point allows forwards like Ryan Getzlaf to move down low on the power play and attack the net more often.
“It gives us another option to utilize,” Carlyle said. “We think Getzlaf has the ability to shoot the puck with the elite players in the league. With him you can switch sides for the one-timer and switch back down low to up top. Getzlaf is a big guy who can handle the puck down low. He can make plays to the net, he can fake shots.”
Meanwhile, Carlyle believes that as much of an impression Schneider has made in the early going since his return, “I think there is room for him to improve.” “I don’t think he’s fully satisfied with where he is, and I think he can be better,” Carlyle said. “He can move better and I don’t think he’s as fluid as he was in the preseason.”
Notes Despite their struggles in the early part of the season, the Ducks were fortunate to not find themselves in a big hole in the Pacific Division standings. None of the other four division foes – San Jose, Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix – has sprung from the starting blocks either. The Ducks’ middling 6-7-2 record surprisingly puts them just one standings point back of the first-place Sharks (7-6-1) going into tonight’s game against Dallas.
After the morning skate, Carlyle was asked if he was surprised by the mediocrity in the division and he was quick to reply with a “No.” When asked for an explanation, Carlyle said, “Everybody made changes and it’s early in the year. It’s a reflection on the salary cap and the distribution of skill. Everybody is taking a stab at changing their teams to some degree. I don’t think it’s any surprise and it reflects back on last year, how tight it was.”