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Ducks need to turn cycle into scoring chances

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Each time he saw Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon cycling the puck below the goal line Saturday night, forcing the New Jersey Devils to chase and change if they managed to get it out, Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau kept thinking the same thing.

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"That's what they do," Boudreau said. "When they can control the puck in the offensive zone, and Patty is also very good down low, then they become a real viable threat."

They were Saturday in a 2-1 win against the Devils at Prudential Center. Boudreau went as far as saying it was Getzlaf's best game in a long time even though he didn't wind up on the scoresheet. A big part of that had to do with the possession he, Perry and Maroon created.

"That's what we have to get back to," Perry said.

However, it would be a mistake to think the Ducks' problems this season stem from possession.

Getzlaf has a 56.46 shot attempts percentage (SAT). Perry has a 53.45 SAT percentage. Maroon, who has only played sparingly on the top line, is at 52.75. The Ducks were seventh in the NHL in SAT percentage (52.85 percent) entering play Sunday.

Their big problem has been scoring, or to keep it within the percentages game, their League-low 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 4.8 percent.

Getzlaf has one goal, scored into an empty net in a 4-1 win at the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 30. That game is one of six in which the Ducks have scored four or more goals this season. They've been held under two in 15 of 31 games.

Getzlaf is 0-for-57 on shots on goal with a goalie standing in the crease. Maroon has one goal on 31 shots. Perry has 10 goals and actually a respectable shooting percentage (12.2 percent), which is still below his 13.3 percent career average.

A big reason for the scoring problems is the fact that the Ducks are not generating enough Grade-A scoring chances off of the possession they're creating. It was again a problem Saturday.

Perry had three shots on goal despite being on the ice for 16 even strength shot attempts for and six against. Maroon had three shots and was on for 13 even strength shot attempts and six against. Getzlaf was a plus-5 (13-8) in shot attempts, but he had had only one shot on goal.

It prompted one coach at the game to joke that it would be great for them if the nets were in the corners. They're not, so Perry, Getzlaf and Maroon have to funnel more pucks to the middle, to the slot.

Do that and maybe then the Ducks will be able to break out of their season long scoring slump.

"When we're doing it, that's where we live, below the top of the circles," Perry said. "It's going to break and you just have to continue to keep working at it."


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