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NHL: What is Wrong With the Anaheim Ducks?

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In the 2012-2013 season, the Anaheim Ducks lost in the Conference Quarterfinals. In 2013-2014, they lost in the Conference Semifinals. In 2014-2015, they lost in the Conference Finals.

The Ducks have been getting better and better as each season passes, so it’s no surprise that they were a popular pick to reach the Stanley Cup final this year – and to win it, too.

What is a surprise is how the Ducks have played so far in this young season. They’re a dismal 1-3 so far, and they recently suffered an embarrassing 4-0 shutout loss to the supposedly terrible Phoenix Coyotes. What’s going on in Anaheim?

What is Wrong With the Ducks?

Slow Start With a Slow Team

The Anaheim Ducks are getting beat because they’re playing too slowly. Forward Andrew Cogliano put this explanation forth in the media, noting that the Ducks are slow getting the puck up the ice and slow in a grander sense, taking to long to set up and execute plays. Maybe it’s a lack of work ethic from a team that has been too highly praised since before the season even started, or maybe it’s coach Bruce Boudreau’s tough practices.

If it’s the latter the Ducks may be in luck – at the time of this writing, they’ve skipped physical practices in favor of extensive video room sessions in the run-up to their home game against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

Tinkering With the Lines

Coach Bruce Boudreau loves to mess around with his lines. We’re not so sure that’s a good idea. The Ducks’ two offensive superstars, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, work well together; yet Boudreau decided to put them on different lines in training camp and in the first game.

He came to his senses in Vancouver, but is it a good idea to switch up the lines much on a team that really hasn’t had any issues scoring over the past few seasons? Even with the stars back together, fans have to wonder if the training camp separation is a reason for the Ducks’ slow start.

Problems With the Top Line

The Ducks’ first line (when not dismantled by head coach Bruce Boudreau, as mentioned above) should be an offensive powerhouse: it features stars Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. But the Ducks have struggled to get that line going, largely because they don’t have a lot of good options at left wing. In the Coyotes loss, Jiri Sekac filled that role with the top line and didn’t really help get things going.

Failures on offense and with the top line have trickled down to the rest of the squad, too: the Ducks have offensive-minded defensemen, which leaves them a bit exposed when the offense loses control of the puck.

Too Early to Panic

The problems with the Ducks are very real, but they may be fixable. There seem to be motivational problems with this team, which could be bad news for Bruce Boudreau, but there’s no doubt that the talent is there.

A few lucky breaks could revitalize a team that really didn’t play that poorly in their first two losses (though there was no excuse for the third loss, which came at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes).

Maybe a trade for a left winger would revitalize the offense. And once it gets going, this Ducks team should be an absolute powerhouse in the offensive zone.

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