Despite today only being Tuesday, the lesson of the week already seems clear – a great offense might not measure up to an unstoppable defense. This was certainly the case on Sunday night as the Seattle Seahawks all but shutout the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl game considered boring for everyone but the 12th man. The lesson remained the same last night in Southern California as the NHL league-best Anaheim Ducks took a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Honda Center.
To say the Ducks were up against a stellar defense by playing Columbus is putting terms lightly. With Sergei Bobrovsky, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner for NHL Goalie of the Year, in net and defensemen Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski finally finding their season strides, the Blue Jackets have recently picked up on the idea of winning. Perhaps even from Anaheim themselves.
With the loss, those days of an undefeated Ducks home streak seem far away at the moment with no solid solutions yet in sight. By scratching defenseman Luca Sbisa in last night’s game and putting in Sami Vatanen, Anaheim was clearly looking for a spark in their own blue line. A spark that never quite found any sort of ignition.
In addition to struggling defense, the Ducks still waiver with playing a full 60-minute game. From day one of the season and a first game 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalache, Anaheim has yet to find their way into games at the first drop of the puck. They did, however, find a way to win through bad starts and uneven shots on goal totals by skating out every third period and somehow outscoring in 20 minutes what their opponent had done in 40. So why stop the trick when it works?
Because tricks always run their course and opposing teams now come to play Anaheim specifically ready for the third period battle. As seen just last night when Columbus manged to draw three penalties on the Ducks within seconds of each other, score their fourth goal of the night and essentially put a Ducks win out of reach.
But, now is still not the time to panic over the ending to a storybook season in Anaheim. With the Olympic break days away, Ducks fans will be preaching their old tune by the beginning of March.
Just this morning, the Ducks hit the ice with a special pre-pratice scrimmage. When reporters asked coach Bruce Boudreau what the purpose of the scrimmage was, he simply said to remind the team “the sun came up today and we’re still in first place.”