Ryan Getzlaf (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
In Anaheim’s 3-0 loss to Buffalo, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau took Ryan Getzlaf off the top line and post-game told media that on a “consistent basis, our best players aren’t our best players.” The Ducks have lost six of their past 10 games and sit 27th in the NHL. No team has scored fewer goals.
It was believed the Anaheim Ducks would turn their season around at any point in the past month. It was expected in November after their October struggles, and it was believed that, after a rocky November, December would be the month the Ducks really turned it on.
Instead, Anaheim remains in the NHL’s basement with an 11-14-5 record through 30 games and have lost six of their past 10 contests. They sit in 28th place in the league, but are tied in points with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets for the honor of least points in the league. Worst of all, the Ducks offense hasn’t just been missing, it’s been near non-existent to a befuddling extent.
Through 30 games, the Ducks have 56 goals. The next closest teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, each have 68. Anaheim has the third-worst goal differential at minus-20. And with struggles like this, coach Bruce Boudreau has seen just about enough. Following Thursday’s game — a 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres — Boudreau voiced his displeasure with the team.
“We talk about the positive things that you can do all the time,” Boudreau told the OC Register’s Eric Stephens. “Quite frankly, when your best players aren’t your best players, you’re not going to win games. And that’s the bottom line. On a too consistent basis, our best players aren’t our best players.”
Boudreau’s not wrong, either — Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and others have all been mediocre. Really, the lone bright spots on the Ducks team have been goaltender John Gibson and the increasingly impressive play of defenseman Sami Vatanen. Other than that, it’s been ugly in Anaheim.
Thursday night marked the seventh time this season the Ducks were shutout. That’s close to one-quarter of the season. Boudreau took his first big swing at shaking things up when, against the Sabres, he removed Getzlaf from the top line and away from Perry. Getzlaf said he understood Boudreau’s decision.
“He’s trying to find ways to get us to score goals,” Getzlaf told Stephens. “That’s his job back there. My job is to go out there and play. Whoever’s on my wings, I’m going to try and do that. You’re never going to hear me complain about that. I got to go out and play and do my job. We got a lot of good players on this team. There’s nobody that I don’t like playing with.”
It didn’t work Thursday night, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Getzlaf is off the top unit again come Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. Through 30 games, he has one goal — that’s not a typo — and it came on an empty net. At 5-on-5, he has only three primary assists, meaning he’s only been directly responsible for three Anaheim goals this season at even strength.
“It starts with me,” Getzlaf, the Ducks’ captain, said post-game. “I take a lot of it on my shoulders at times. When I got one goal throughout the first 30 games we have played, that’s not good enough. I can’t expect our guys to follow anybody else.”
Boudreau made it clear he’s not afraid to shift the lines further in order to get some different looks to do something, anything, to spark the offense. It is unlikely, though, that he will take what he called “drastic measures” and bench Getzlaf or make him a scratch.
“We’ll sit back, the coaches will re-evaluate again tomorrow,” Boudreau told Stephens. “Go to practice and on Saturday we’ll have a game. We’ll believe we’re going to come in and be successful. It’s the way we’ve got to act at it.”