Sharks Embarrass Ducks to the Tune of 6-1

The Anaheim Ducks hosted the San Jose Sharks Friday night at Honda Center. And when I say “hosted,” I mean they rented the ice sheet out like a banquet hall, and the Sharks threw a raging fiesta. The Ducks were coming off of an emotional battle of an overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, looking to build momentum before embarking on a 5-game road trip. The Sharks, on the other side of the ice, were looking to return to the win column after only managing 1 point in their last four games.

The Ducks’ lineup looked a little different tonight. John Klingberg returned to the ice after missing the last seven games due to a lower-body injury. Newly acquired waiver claim, Jayson Megna, made his Ducks debut and faced off against his brother, Jaycob, for the first time in their careers. San Jose rookie netminder, Eetu Makiniemi was set to make his first career NHL start on Friday as well and was set to face John Gibson in the opposite crease.

Offense

The Ducks coaching staff decided to return to the 12 forwards/ 6 defensemen look for this one with the addition of Megna. He slotted in on the right wing next to Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano on the 2nd line. The rest of the lineup remained untouched for the most part to start the game.

Anaheim failed to generate much offense throughout the duration of the game. The defensemen found forwards for outlet passes on breakouts, but the second pass out of the zone was often off-target. This caused sloppy zone entries, which negated rush opportunities. The cycle was also lacking in this one as Anaheim struggled to move the puck to dangerous areas of the ice, and the few times they did, they failed to capitalize.

The San Jose Defense corps deserves some credit here for emphasizing the importance of keeping the Ducks forwards to the perimeter. Very few passes found their way across the ice in the Sharks’ zone, and very few Ducks attackers leveraged their way to the slot with the puck on their stick. Anaheim seemed to lack a 4th gear all night and struggled to engage on the forecheck, which has been surprisingly successful for the Ducks this season.

After digging themselves a 4-0 hole, Trevor Zegras took it upon himself to get the Ducks on the board. He received an outlet pass from Cam Fowler, rushed down the left wing, and used the Sharks defenseman as a screen, shooting it between his legs and beating Makiniemi under the arm.

To start the 3rd period, the coaching staff switched up the lines to try and spark some offense, but to no avail. Trevor Zegras did what he could to ignite whatever line he found himself on. Troy Terry didn’t have his typical flair and appeared far less dangerous than usual in a rare mediocre performance. Even the usual suspects we can simply expect energy from (Comtois, Jones, and Vatrano) failed to provide it. The powerplay didn’t get many chances (the scoresheet will say 0-3, but one of them was only 10 seconds long), but the top unit created a couple of chances. That may have been the only bright spot for the team’s offensive performance in this one.

While the shot totals in this game were similar, the quality of the shots was not. Makiniemi was strong on his angles and calm in net as he was only challenged once or twice with truly dangerous opportunities. The rest of the Ducks’ shots were from the perimeter with minimal screens. That’s not quite a recipe for success in the modern-day NHL.

Defense

Apathy and lack of communication were the downfalls for the Defensive unit tonight. Three of the six goals surrendered were from pure coverage breakdowns. These miscues have been costing this team all season, and there seems to be no end in sight. The 1st goal San Jose scored might have been the most egregious example. Sam Carrick lost the draw cleanly, and the puck went to Erik Karlsson on the point. Cam Fowler tracked Timo Meier to the front of the net where Kulikov was patrolling. They both left Meier on the far post unattended to pick up Tomas Hertl on the near post. Karlsson found Meier on the backdoor for a tap-in.

The penalty kill went three for four and was effective at stifling opportunities for the most part. That is, except for the goal, they did give up, which was caused solely by a lack of effort. On the entry, Alexander Barabanov gained easy entry chipping the puck right around Kevin Shattenkirk, who did nothing more than reach with his stick. Barabanov could get a decent shot on goal, get his own rebound, skate behind the net, and feed a puck through to the point where Karlsson used Frank Vatrano as a screen to get one by John Gibson.

On the positive side, John Klingberg seemed to regain some of his old forms in his return to the lineup. He had the wheels going as he was good at retrieving pucks and moving up ice with speed. He was confident and decisive in his decision-making which led to a handful of nice zone entries and in-zone chances. Cam Fowler didn’t seem to have his most influential game in this one. He struggled to get his shot through in the offensive, and defensive zones often lost his check, and scrambled to recover on more than one occasion.

Goaltending

It seems like we are living in a perpetual state of deja vu with John Gibson. He let in 4 goals on 19 shots overtwo2 periods of work. Yet again, I didn’t see a goal he let in that he should have saved. There was a backdoor tap-in, a deflection off of Cam Fowler, a screen shot on a penalty kill, and a ridiculous bad bounce off the Zamboni door on a dump-in attempt.

Gibson was relieved by Anthony Stolarz to start the 3rd period. Stolarz let in one goal on eight shots. San Jose also added an empty net goal. Being an Anaheim Ducks goaltender doesn’t seem to be a fun job in 2022-23.

Summary

As the Anaheim Ducks sit at the bottom of the standings, the fanbase has become accustomed to losing. Many fans embrace losses as long as the younger players perform well, develop, and give full effort on every shift. This loss seems like a setback in that criteria. A winnable game against a division rival and fellow bottom-dwelling team should inspire a hungry team to give an all-out effort on every shift. We seemed to have witnessed the opposite in this one.

The Duck will now embark on a 5-game road trip with 4 Canadian destinations and wrap up in Los Angeles against the Kings. Their next game will be in Ottawa against the Senators on Monday evening.

Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief Late Arrivals: An Anaheim Ducks Podcast

On this episode of LAP, the guys talk about the wonderful, one might even say MIGHTY, news coming out of Anaheim Thursday morning and share their thoughts on the long awaited rebrand coming to OC. The guys try to predict what the new uniforms may entail and share their excitement for things being how they should once more. Lastly, the guys give their Cup Final predictions and answer listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief
  2. Episode 88: Minute Muncher
  3. Episode 87: Coach Chaos
  4. Episode 86: It's All Your Fault
  5. Episode 85: One Last Howl

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