There was some serious optimism building while the Anaheim Ducks were riding high on their points streak. My cynicism about the whole thing was confirmed, however, with the blowout 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Anaheim is proving that they still are a lost group of players.
A lot of this negative assessment is based in how the games during the points streak were approached. The Ducks seemed to let their goaltenders carry the squad to victory and pray some goals went in along the way. Even when there were large numbers being posted for the shots-on-goal statistic, the shots were not really goal worthy (typically wild and inaccurate). It is one thing to bombard with hopes for getting a rebound, as that can sometimes work. It is much better, however, to have a gameplan that creates calculated offensive chances.
In general, Anaheim’s offense needs to get better at winning faceoffs, controlling possession and ultimately staying calm when the opposing defense is not giving them much leeway. Speaking of defense, Anaheim losing Cam Fowler for a few weeks due to injury is easily going to hurt the team. This is the time, however, to prove that controlling the zone and keeping pressure on the puck-carrier is something the Ducks can do. Positioning more than anything else needs to be spot-on, as we now see with the Toronto loss how bad things can get without defensive focus.
It really is the tipping point for Anaheim. I cannot fathom a run at a Wild Card spot if they continue to have lucky wins via great goaltending only to get blown out because of the same strategy. The next few weeks will really determine if the team can prove themselves worthy of a run at the postseason after an atrocious start.