Ducks Continue to Struggle in Blowout Loss to Preds

Cam Fowler

The Ducks got stomped 6-1 in their Friday Matinee against the Nashville Predators yesterday at Honda Center to close out 2022.

It was “Flashback Friday” for the final game of 2022 for the Ducks, and the arena DJ played mostly 1990s songs throughout the day, but the Ducks’ play, unfortunately, did not match the vibes.

Colton Sissons went bar down to get the party started after four Ducks defenders had defensive collapses, and the only reason why there was not five is because the fifth player was changing. Uhro Vaakaneinen failed to clear, Jayson Megna hung out on the boards waiting for a clear that never happened, and Sam Carrick was puck-watching the whole time. Kevin Shattenkirk somehow ended up out of position, leaving Sissons wide open in the slot.

The first period ended 1-0 Preds, with the shot totals being 13-9 in the Preds favor as well, but the Ducks actually did not play too terribly. Sure there were some defensive miscues, but the Ducks had a 1.01-0.66 expected goals advantage, according to MoneyPuck.

Just over two minutes into the second period, Justin Kirkland recovers a failed clear attempt and sends a cross-ice pass to Megna, who then drop passes it to Urho Vaakaneinen and fires one from the point and gets deflected into the net by a parked Carrick in front of the net. This was Vaakaneinen’s first point of the season, and it helped tie things up at 1-1.

The Predators would take the lead for good just seven minutes later when Cam Fowler went to clear a rebound but ended up giving it up to Yakov Trenin, who put it in to take a 2-1 lead. From there, the game started slipping away from Anaheim as it usually does every second period.

Filip Forsberg then pots in the rebound off an odd-man rush to make it 3-1. Simon Benoit did not pressure Forsberg on the zone entry, which allowed a clean entry, and then Troy Terry failed to clear the rebound for Forsberg to find the back of the net.

After a quiet first half of the third period, the Preds unloaded for three goals in the final ten minutes of the game. It all started when Megna turned the puck over behind the net to Cole Smith, who then fed Thomas Novak wide-open in the slot for the goal to extend the lead to 4-1.

Five minutes later, Adam Henrique took a hooking penalty, and Roman Josi scored a power play goal on a shot from the point that Gibson never saw because he was screened by a plethora of bodies.

Now down 5-1, the Ducks lost all steam and tried to crawl their way to the finish line. The Ducks could not crawl all the way to the finish line and surrendered another goal for good measure. Mikael Granlund was behind the net when he made a pass to Nino Niederreiter, who whiffed, but it deflected off of him and hit John Klingberg’s skate, and trickled its way into the net with just 12.8 seconds left to make it 6-1.

Takeaways

This was the sixth game in a row where the Ducks surrendered at least 40 shots on goal, pushing goaltenders Lukas Dostal and John Gibson to their limits. Gibson was masterful just two nights ago against the Vegas Golden Knights, stopping 49 of 51 shots faced as well as not allowing a goal in the shootout to steal a win for the Ducks, but tonight was a different story. Gibson was human yesterday and looked sharp early in the game, but defensive breakdowns and a constant flow of shots caught up with him.

Honestly, Gibson should not have started this game, considering he just came back from an injury that had him sidelined for the last two weeks. Gibson’s workload has always been heavy, but with the emergence of top goalie prospect Lukas Dostal, it would make sense for the Ducks to use the two goalies as a tandem to get Dostal more playing time and Gibson more rest.

The offense struggled to get anything going yesterday, and it seemed like nobody was on the same page more often than not. Brett Leason had probably his best game in a Ducks sweater with 0.61 xG and a 52.3 xG% yesterday. Leason was good on the forecheck and found himself with some scoring chances but could not finish them. I do not mean to discredit Leason, but when he is your best skater on the ice, there are some serious problems.

The defense struggled yesterday, as it has the whole season, with plenty of miscues that left Preds players wide open either in front of the net or in the slot. Kevin Shattenkirk has been a constant struggle on the blue line for the Ducks the last few years, and it was on full display yesterday. Shattenkirk looks like he has concrete in his skates when he is forced to turn on the jets so he cannot catch up to his position. Shattenkirk also has made some poor decisions with the puck all year, leading to multiple turnovers.

Another thing that stood out in the game was in the last few minutes, and the Ducks looked extremely flat and almost uninterested in finishing the game. There was a lack of energy, and it seemed the Ducks were more focused on killing the clock than trying to break out the defensive zone and create some scoring chances. This style of play came back to bite them as they gave up a goal with just 12 seconds left, and boos rained down from the Honda Center crowd.

However, one positive note on the game is that the Ducks only took one penalty after taking an average of five penalties a game in their previous six games. Taking 30 penalties in six games is not the greatest recipe for success, and it has been a problem for the Ducks all year, especially considering they have one of the worst penalty killing units in the league. So hopefully, the Ducks can build off of this game in that aspect.

The Ducks drop to 10-23-4 with 24 points, and they will kick off 2023 with a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, January 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. PST.

On this episode of LAP, the guys are back with some brief Ducks news and some talk regarding what this offseason in Anaheim can look like. The guys also cover the whirlwind that is the NHL coaching sphere at the moment and give their thoughts on the apparent "shelf life" they all seem to have. They give their thoughts on the playoffs thus far and finish things up with listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 87: Coach Chaos
  2. Episode 86: It's All Your Fault
  3. Episode 85: One Last Howl
  4. Episode 84: Call Your Dad
  5. Episode 83: Ooh Ah

Jack Janes

Journalism major at the University of La Verne. Writer for Inside The Rink covering the Anaheim Ducks.

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